Through engagement with services the ability to address a broad range of barriers to personal development, not just housing. These may include drug and alcohol use, institutionalisation, negative life experiences, poor mental and physical health and education
The workshop reviews revealed that many of the perceived barriers to client engagement can be addressed through simple discussion – either with your own manager; or with colleagues in other teams.
‘Huggard’s handover notes and meetings make a real difference to making sure that we can communicate effectively between teams. As soon as you come in, you know exactly what has been going on and you feel ready to begin your day carrying on the great work of the previous day or night’.
Communication can take place through formalised channels, such as meetings and forums; but equally important is the informal communication that can take place between colleagues.
Equally communication with clients is critical in order to ensure that service provision meets the needs of this group; and when seeking to communicate that this is done in a manner and environment that is appropriate for the client. Remember communication is not just about how you speak – it’s how you listen and your body language. Equally your communication is only as good as your actions which follow it up.
Think about the impact of your communications and the effect that it has on others.
Improving Communication Between Clients and Staff
Formal and regular keyworking sessions: Maximise the benefit of these by varying locations – go for a walk, use a coffee shop, visit the museum.
Developing positive relationships with clients: It is always important for all staff to maintain professional boundaries and work within a clear code of conduct. Within such a framework, some barriers to engagement can be overcome by balancing formal and informal opportunities to engage, establishing a mutual understanding and developing trust.
Exploring issues and aspirations in less formal contexts such as over a coffee, a game of cards or just an informal chat can help make other formal communications, such as support sessions and addressing necessary issues, more productive. Equally it must always be remembered that if relationships with clients become over-familial, by overstepping professional boundaries, that this may erode respect and trust and cause a breakdown in a positive engagement process.
Plan communication: Think carefully about how you may be going to approach certain subjects, including the style of communication, the timing and the location of the meeting.
All staff have a responsibility to ensure that Huggard is an organisation that subscribes to open communication: and the principals of effective communication are as relevant to management as they are to those who work directly with clients.
Supervision sessions should be on a regular basis and recorded, but remember that you can approach your manager at any time.
When communicating with colleagues remember that you may often need to communicate with a large group of people to ensure consistency of information. So, for example if things are discussed at a team meeting make sure those who were unable to join the meeting receive a follow-up. Equally make use of tools such as the database and email to make sure that key messages are communicated clearly and effectively to all.
Support your peers, share experiences with them and celebrate successes – There is a wealth of knowledge and skills within our own network.
Recognise that certain messages need certain styles – for instance the need to follow up in writing key decisions and to re-enforce key decisions.
Our Communication Tools
Think about the most effective communication tools to use – we have a range at our disposal – log-books, email, database, supervision, informal verbal communication, team meetings and handovers.
‘All staff members have a duty to ensure effective communication’.
All Staff Commit To:
- Planning and foreseeing the need to communicate
- Attending team meetings and training sessions
- Making comprehensive and relevant entries into log-books and the database
- Utilising handover sessions, database and log book to keep updated on information.
- Recognising the need for a mix of individual and team communication and the strengths and weaknesses of both
- Highlighting urgent messages via email
Things to Remember
Face to face communication is important, but written communication does provide an audit trail. Communication should be always be clear.