The London Borough of Redbridge began The Three Conversations® journey in autumn 2017. I was invited to a project board meeting with our Director and other senior managers, where I met Sam Newman from Partners4Change, and believe it or not, my first thought was – wow! This man is passionate about The Three Conversations® but at the same time I felt quite sceptical about how it would work in practice. Sam began by telling us about the approach with an overview of how it fitted in with personalisation, the Care Act and Making Safeguarding Personal, as well as the financial benefits of using such an approach. 

It did all make sense – the only thing was, we were all thinking, well, what’s new? We have been doing this for years! Sam really made me question my own practice. Having worked in Adult Social Care for over 30 years, was The Three Conversations® really going to teach me anything different, and could I continue to make a difference to people’s lives both on an individual, team and organisational level?

It was important for the team to own the work that we were embarking on, and it was therefore equally important for the whole team to feel involved throughout the implementation phase. So, with this in mind, we began thinking about a name for our Redbridge model and came up with ‘People Matter’, since we believe that ultimately, that is what matters most to us: the person, and whether they are receiving the level of support that they need, regardless of budgets and other constraints.

We did some preparatory briefing work with one of our teams in preparation for the pilot and were brave enough to test out the model with our front door service (First Contact Team). Within the First Contact Team, we decided that it would be best to split the team in to two and to have the ‘old world’ (the status quo) run alongside the ‘new world’ (The Three Conversations®) so that we could continue to keep the show on the road. As you may already be aware, this type of team is very busy and comes up against all kinds of challenges such as safeguarding, crisis intervention, carer breakdown situations, police reports etc. So, we decided to have 3 innovators working in the ‘new’ way and the other 3 wellbeing officers working in the ‘old’ way.  

We ran the innovation site for 13 weeks – beginning in December and ending in March 2018, and we can honestly say that we were not prepared for this roller-coaster ride of differing emotions that we all went through. In no particular order: from feeling, inspired, motivated, autonomous, satisfied, creative, fed up to overloaded. However, the regular briefing sessions gave us the space we needed to talk things through and be there for one another – it brought the team closer.

It wasn’t all work, work, work. We decided to have some fun along the way too…so we came up with the idea of doing a music video to showcase our journey! At the beginning of the innovation site the team did not even want a photograph taken, but by the time we had finished we had everyone dancing, coming up with ideas on what to include and even had the Occupational Therapist singing the song – we really did ‘Do it our way’! 

We have learnt a great deal working in this new way and some of the initial evaluation data has demonstrated staggering results where we were able to make a significant difference to the number of people requiring “transfer for long term support”. Not only that, but we also had some amazing stories from people, and have been able to transform the way that we work with individuals. It has been so exciting to see the confidence and creativity of staff emerging and coming through, enabling them to engage with people and being able to build relationships that form the basis of empowering people to help themselves.

Sometimes as practitioners, we feel that we must take on full responsibility for everyone including all their risks, and feeling that we must protect everyone, but also that we have to give people something and do things for them. However, The Three Conversations® has shown us that the best thing that we can do for people is to encourage, motivate and empower them, so that they can become more self-sufficient and resilient and problem solve to self-manage. It has also highlighted that the learning that we have achieved from this model fits in nicely with the philosophy of Occupational Therapy. This is why we have really noticed that with efficient, timely Occupational Therapy input, people’s independence has been maximised and cost savings have been achieved by avoiding long-term support.

We have received some amazing feedback from people who have been taken through the People Matter model rather than the ‘old world’ model. Their comments included:

“You are a life saver!”

“What would I have done without you?!“

 “It was really quick and easy to access help.”  

“I only had to deal with one person, who actually supported me”

So, in conclusion, do we believe that people matter? Yes, we do, and we believe that The Three Conversations® supports this to happen.