It was a real pleasure to hold a Whose Shoes? session recently at St Mary’s Extra Care scheme in Lutterworth, as part of Leicestershire County Council’s Innovation Challenge. We had a great mix of residents, family carers and staff as well as Sally Taylor, Head of Supported Housing for EMHA and representatives from Age UK who provide care services. My 90 year old Mum came along too and was made very welcome. This wide range of perspectives always makes for a lively session, particularly when we are supported by the wonderful graphic recording skills of Anna Geyer from New Possibilities.
Whose Shoes? is a facilitation tool which helps people discuss the important matters in health and social care – and indeed life! – in a relaxed, friendly environment. We worked with Sally and with St Mary’s staff in advance of the session to plan key topics :
Choice and control, nutrition, mobility, staying connected in the community…
We wanted to explore specifically how people felt about living at St Mary’s, what (if anything!) could be improved. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the fabulous inter-generational Arts project many of them had enjoyed.
Residents were clearly very happy with their lives at St Mary’s. One look at the fabulous refreshments provided and the general feeling of well-being in the room, told us that nutrition was not really an issue. However, discussions about staying connected in the community and the new strong relationship (through the Arts project) with the local primary school led to fascinating discussions about how people felt about computing and technology and how we could build on this new local link.
Mum was a bit of a reluctant star as she had published a blog in my “In my shoes” series that day. This led to great interest and much merriment about blogging and the use of computers and technology. It became very apparent how important language and clear explanations are. One lady was initially very resistant to the whole concept of blogging but then revealed that she loved writing and kept a diary. Changing times, changing words. But everyone agreed how important it is to feel connected and valued. We looked at practical ways for people to understand technology better. Someone suggested a further schools project around computer buddying; someone else wanted to try using a Wii!
We concluded by writing some poems and tweeting live about our afternoon, again combining traditional and modern forms of communication.
This is how Whose Shoes? sessions work – the tool naturally opens up the topics that the participants themselves want to talk about and starts to identify where their challenges or key issues lie. And we had a great time! There was a lovely vibrant atmosphere – some of the group told us they call themselves “The Recycled Teanagers” when booking Community Transport. No Asbos were issued!
Thanks to Helen Turner and Community Catalysts for the wonderful organisation and enthusiasm for the Innovation Challenge project – I felt very privileged to be part of this.
Director of Nutshell Communications. Creator of Whose Shoes?