1.1 Partnership working can be seen to be effective when all parties (carers, families, and significant others) are able to communicate, listen, respect, accept and value the input and expertise of each other. There is no individual agenda, other than that of positive outcomes for the individual concerned, and the partners work together with that goal as the centre of their discussions. As such when meetings take place, clear agendas are set and followed and agreements, once made, are accepted and actions followed through.
1.2 Partnership working is important to ensure input from the most appropriate and most experienced partner is obtained. It should also mean faster and more effective outcomes, as each partner will have an immediate knowledge.
Colleagues – For input relating to everyday abilities I look towards their direct support staff as they will have the best, general working knowledge, as they will work with the individual on a day to day basis.
Other Professionals – For general medical advice I seek input from the individuals GP. For input into aids and adaptations that may improve an individuals’ independence or safety I contact the Hospital Occupational Therapy Department, for communication issues I work in partnership with a speech and language therapist. It is important to use expert advice when it is available.
Others – The individual service user must be at centre of partnership working. Any decisions and agreements made must always keep this fact as the main focus, as the needs and wishes of the person should be the main consideration. Wherever possible the individual should be supported to advocate for themselves, but where this is not possible (perhaps due to communication difficulties) the input of family, friends should be sought, or perhaps from an independent advocate. Family and friends may have a different perspective to other professionals or carers so it is important to involve them wherever possible.
1.3 Partnership Working and Person Centred Practice delivers better outcomes and can lead to positive changes by providing a wider range of perspectives and acknowledging areas of expertise, whilst keeping the individual at the centre of the plan and working together to meet their needs, hopes, desires and wishes. Each partner has a specific area of expertise or interest, and their focus will be on that area.
Sharing expertise and knowledge is more likely to give fuller consideration to any issue being discussed and increases likelihood of positive outcomes that are supported by all partners, who will then continue to work to ensure its success.
Involving other appropriate partners leads to an increase in available resources, and prevents working in isolation.
It also gives a fuller support system for the individual and allows for a wider aspect of monitoring as parties will see and view the individual in different ways and in different environments and activities.
It also means that positive outcomes are shared successes and this leads to trust, respect and improved partnership work for future outcomes.
1.4 Barriers to partnership working can occur if partners are not working in the best interest of the individual, but are working to their own agenda, for example if they are looking to avoid or take on work their input may become biased. People can become protective of their own opinion and expertise, and may not understand or value that of others.
Communication can also become difficult when working with larger groups as it requires co-ordination of schedules in order for all parties to meet.
Some of these barriers can be overcome at the outset of partnership working. If each party explains their area of expertise and knowledge and how it relates to the individual it should prevent their opinions being dismissed out of hand by another party who assumes they know more or ‘better’.
Initial ‘get to know’ meetings prior to planning meetings can also be used at this time, for all parties to get to know each other, for ground rules to be set on how future planning meetings will run, and to create and agree a shared vision from the start.
It is also important to ensure effective communication, from giving timely invites to meetings, sending out minutes, agreements or action plans, or ensuring that language that all parties understand is used; not all parties may be experts in all fields yet must have an understanding, so it may not be appropriate to use jargon or technical terms.
2.1 My role involves effective partnership working colleagues – with the individual staff, the team as a whole, and creating an environment in which the individual staff do the same.
I seek to create an effective team that has shared goals, values themselves and each other, understands their own role and are motivated, challenged and valued in their work.
I undertake individual supervisions with staff to give them feedback on their work and also to allow them to reflect on their own practices. I also seek input from them on the workplace itself. I consider it important to obtain this feedback, as it offers another perspective, and also gives value to staff perspectives
I also hold staff meetings with the entire staff group. This is important for effective communication and helps bring the staff team together through shared discussion, agreement and action. Feedback on team performance is given and success is shared.
2.2 Every year a statement of purpose and annual report is created and agreed by myself and the staff team, and also an action plan for the coming year. This is done through staff meetings where all staff are asked to contribute ideas. This gives them ownership of the homes shared vision and practices, something by which their achievements can be measured, and values their input.
Sharing the decision making process with colleagues also encourages them to more effectively support each other, as they all understand their objectives.
I also undertake annual Performance Development reviews with each staff member, where objectives are agreed, set and monitored, and feedback is given as to performance.
2.3 My own working relationship with colleagues is evaluated through my own supervision with my line manager, and also through my own Performance Development Review. I will debrief with my own staff and line manager as to my performance in my supervision sessions, and have also used 360 degree feedback to help me evaluate my strengths and areas of development.
I am assessed annually on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These relate to staff attendance at work, budgets, number of staff meetings and supervisions, and can be seen as a good indicator of performance. It is important to remember that successful performance as a manager cannot be achieved with a successful team.
2.4 Dealing constructively with conflict with colleagues requires effective communication. Firstly it is important to identify and clarify what the issue is. In any team it there can be personal or professional differences, and it is important not allow them to fester as they can lead to further division and unrest with colleagues and a reduction in performance.
Once the issue is identified, by discussing with the parties involved then it is possible to look for solutions. There may be more than one solution so these can be discussed and the best option taken. The situation would then be monitored and staff supervised to ensure the issue was addressed.
By having shared vision in the workplace and practices that have been agreed and discussed it is easier to relate conflict solutions to the workplace, and to promote professionalism; people may not always personally agree and sometimes this has to be acknowledged and opinions respected in the workplace.
It may be that conflict can lead to healthy debate and better outcomes, so it is important to work through any issues and seek solutions.
3.1 My own role and responsibilities in working in partnership with other professionals mean that I must ensure that the partnership group understands that the service user is the focus of any issue and that personal or professional agendas cannot take priority.
I need to be aware when it is appropriate and necessary to utilise the expertise of other professionals.
Data protection is a major consideration at these times. For example sharing health information with a GP would be appropriate, but sharing financial information would not. Likewise health information would not be shared with a bank.
3.2 Developing procedures for effective working relationships with other professionals is important as it gives clear focus on the need for positive and best outcomes for the individuals and clearly defines roles and expectations of those involved in the planning process.
To achieve this pre planning talks are held.
Information that I share must be timely, correct, accurate and complete so that people’s time is not wasted, and only the appropriate information is shared (in line with data protection}. This relates to verbal and written information (meeting minutes);
Any agreed actions must be time limited, and followed through.
Any conflicts that may arise within the group must be resolved and solutions found to maintain the focus on the key individual.
Acting in a professional manner inspires confidence in other partners, and makes partnership working more likely to succeed.
3.3 Being able to agree common objectives when working with other professionals within the boundaries of own role and responsibilities relates directly to the remit of my job description. For example, I must work within the policies, procedures and guidelines that are in place; I cannot choose to override these in order to achieve a goal. Should changes be required then the agreed objective would be passed on to a more appropriate line of management.
The same relates to financial matters. Should an objective require funding at a level above my own expenditure, then this objective would need to be an objective passed on to my line manager who would have the authority to authorise expenditure at a higher level.
In order to agree common objectives meetings are held that involve full discussion with all parties so that decisions re responsibilities, actions and timescales are made. These are written down in the form of minutes and shared in a timely fashion to give appropriate time for any actions to be carried out.
3.4 To evaluate procedures for working with other professionals I make sure that the actions are monitored and reviewed. This will show whether individuals completed agreed actions within the agreed timescale, and whether positive outcomes followed. The most important indicator of successful procedures is whether or not positive outcomes for the service user have been achieved as a result.
This evaluation can take place in the next scheduled meeting, where previous meeting minutes are reviewed.
It can also form part of supervision with staff members, as to their own experiences.
Questionnaires are also provided for staff, others including professionals, and service users and these ask for opinions and experiences.
3.5 Dealing constructively with any conflict that may arise with other professionals can be difficult; however it is made easier by ensuring from the outset that all parties share the common goal of achieving positive outcomes for the service user.
Sometimes issues can be personal rather than professional and this must also be explored. People often have different working practices, even if ultimately both are working towards the same goal. At these times it is important for both parties to be honest and open. It may be the outcome will be an understanding and acceptance of others working practices that has long lasting effects.
In order for any resolution to be successful, and for neither party feel undermined in any way, it is important that I remain non judgemental, and listen to all viewpoints.
It may be that a third party from outside of the partnership working group is required in order to prevent self interest or opinion being an issue.
4.1 In analysing the importance of partnership working with others it can be seen that in order to obtain a full and ‘holistic’ view of a service users life it is necessary to seek input from other persons key to the individual that stand aside from the professional aspect of care provision. This may mean other carers, family members, friends or advocates.
My workplace is governed by procedural requirements, legislation, policies, procedures and guidelines. This can lead to conflict of interest between operational requirements of the service, and the wishes and needs of the service user. The involvement of others helps to provide perspective and balance.
It must never be forgotten that the most important person in partnership and person centred planning is the individual service user. Their views, needs and wishes must always be the focus of any partnership working, so it is imperative that they are involves as fully as possible.
In my role, working with adults with learning difficulties, there can be barriers that prevent their full involvement due to the nature and severity of the learning disability. There are often communication issues, and at these times it is imperative that others are involved that have a personal knowledge of the individual and can promote their best interests.
4.2 In my workplace I develop procedures for effective working relationships with the service user and their family (where there is family contact) through the person centred planning process. This is achieved by using a process where the individual service user meets with their key worker prior to a person centred planning meeting taking place, to discuss and agree how the service user would like their meeting to be. This includes who they would like to invite as attendees, where the meeting is to take place, and the topics they would like to discuss.
A parent of a service user I support does not like to attend person centred planning meetings, but they like to have input. To support this I ensure that following the pre person centred planning meeting the key worker, with the consent of the service user, telephones parent to discuss the upcoming meeting. The key worker can then speak on behalf of the parent and share their views. Following the meeting the key worker again telephones the parent to advise of the outcomes and actions.
The process for dealing with conflicts and complaints is also passed on, as partners should understand they have course for redress or dealing with issues, should they arise, in a structured and positive way.
4.3 Agreeing common objectives when working with others within own boundaries of own role and responsibilities usually takes place at the time of the service user’s admission. Each party is made aware that the focus of partnership working and person centred planning is positive outcomes for the individual service user. All viewpoints are accepted, and expertise is acknowledged. However no one partner has controlling of final influence in the decision making process.
4.4 When evaluating procedures for working with others I review outcomes following meetings as an indicator to success. If positive outcomes follow and improvements in the life of the service user can be seen, then procedures can be seen as successful. If the service user and family remain positive and committed to the process of person centred planning and partnership working, again this can be seen as a success.
However, if positive actions and outcomes do not follow, no improvements or negative outcomes occur, or if parties cease to contribute in the process, then the procedures can be seen not to be effective.
4.5 To deal constructively with any conflict or dilemma that may arise with others I ensure that people are aware of and understand the complaints procedure. It is important that people are informed and encouraged to speak up and raise any issues they have. The concern if they do not is that they cease to participate in the planning process.
Where there is conflict I fact find by speaking to the individual to ascertain what the issue is. Ineffective communication is often the cause of conflict.
At times I may ask a service users key worker, or another appropriate person to liaise with the person with the issue; some of the service users I work with have communication issues, and develop trusting relationships with their key workers.
I remind others of the shared objective for positive outcomes for the individual and relate their issue of conflict back to this as a starting point.
I try to be non judgemental and accept the viewpoints of others.
Should mediation be required I would use the independent Advocacy Service