Another quarter, another SILC residential. If you have been following our event announcements and monthly blog posts closely, you will know that we have just undertaken the 2nd of our quarterly residential meetings. And in many ways, I am happy to report, it was another resounding success. The talks were lively, the contributions brilliant – not that I am in any way biased, of course – and everyone valued the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences and, as ever, the time to reflect.
Having run on adrenaline for so long, obsessively focused on the task at hand, I must confess I am now left feeling a sense of post-event blues. For 3 days, we as a team were in the privileged position of announcing the services’ many successes. Such is the buzzing and positive nature of these meetings that once it comes time to say your farewells, you’re really not sure where to start with your new-found head full of learning. So, I start by reflecting, by evaluating my notes, talking with colleagues and, naturally, writing this blog post.
Where to begin? Well, we happily welcomed two new services into the project for a start. They were each invited to attend the first two days of our residential, working initially on improving data quality and then on introducing themselves to the first cohort (no pressure). All representatives shared their experiences of service management, discussing what it was like to be involved with SILC and what strategies they could use to help enhance their own delivery. It was fascinating to hear all about the nuances surrounding the implementation and management of services, including how organisational dynamics are cultivated and maintained.
There was great energy and passion in the room across all 3 days and throughout one theme resonated, ‘How you use a tool defines it’. By discussing the merits of using measurement as a clinical tool and not just an administrative tool, delegates collectively identified which aspects of their service could benefit most. Often, it was as straightforward as practitioners simply not being aware of its potential in improving the therapeutic process. By actively engaging with people’s attitudes and awareness directly, managers had begun to observe a real and noticeable change. Towards the end of our residential meeting, one of our services delivered a truly inspirational talk recalling an away day they had organised specifically on this topic. The day itself was an opportunity for users to feedback their thoughts and feelings about the newly implemented project methodology and feedback system. By actively inviting and responding to individual attitudes, the service itself was able to work with users and generate strategies about how the tool could be made to work for them and their practice.
The theme of this residential was to reflect on session non-attendance and unplanned endings. Over the past quarter, our SILC services had been recording, in detail, the reasons why a session had been unattended. Interestingly, even when undertaking this approach, it turns out that for the majority of sessions missed, the reasons why were still unclear. Perhaps unsurprisingly, if someone does not show up to their appointment, any understanding about the ‘why’ will be unknown (it should be highlighted that this was still the case even when a client had attended a subsequent session). This leads to a fascinating point. If a person misses their session without warning or terminates their treatment prematurely without having given a reason, what learning can we expect to be gained so that we can prevent this from happening in the future? Thinking in retrospect, I imagine, very little. That is why we at SILC are working tirelessly to understand what steps can be taken early on to help identify and support clients at risk of missing their sessions or prematurely terminating treatment. Understanding these reasons, whether positive or negative, will help improve service efficiency and ultimately, therapeutic outcomes. Exciting times indeed.
-Scott Steen, SILC Research Lead