“Conversation is our greatest tool to align minds.”
In an early Social Care Future meeting, we watched the Irish advert – Bring your family with you - in the run up to marriage equality in Ireland. It got us thinking about the power of conversation and connection.
We started to think what this could mean to MacIntyre, the people we support, our staff and the communities in which we all live. We thought to ourselves… let’s talk, let’s create space and opportunity. And let’s see if it can be a win for everyone: people who draw on our support, our staff, people feeling isolated in our neighbourhoods, people who may want to work for us but don’t know it yet.
We knew we needed to do things differently to respond to what’s happening in our neighbourhoods and sector. In tough times, we must be ambitious for the people who draw on our support, for ourselves and for our communities. We wondered if with some added focus and intentionality we could learn more and grow more.
So we recruited three Community Coordinators to try and get the conversations started – it’s been a year since then and time to take stock and reflect some more.
We’ve learned a lot! Community Coordinators have worn many different hats in the last year: connector, coach, mentor, event planner, administrator, recruiter.
We found that the impact of recruitment challenges meant staff teams felt powerless about the difficulties in attracting new staff. They couldn’t move on as a result. Staff said things like “If I could just get enough workers we could…”. With the support of a Community Coordinator, we’ve seen that by doing what we think we don’t have time for collaboratively, we can take back some control. It’s about having fresh eyes to spot skills, identify gaps or revive ideas that used to work well.
Sometimes as a staff team, we need a bit of support, inspiration and focus. Having a Community Coordinator come and visit can set that intention. Having the conversation with people who draw on our support, noticing where there are skills and talents that could support the wider community can make things happen. This has resulted in creating all ability rugby, community film showings, community murals, and simply creating space for people to come together and meet each other (in partnership with our friends at Camerados – visit their website to find out more about them).
An organisational ripple from that work has been staff teams feeling energised, positive and supported. That they have permission and reassurance to connect and work in a different way. We have seen an impact on recruitment with people who didn’t know anything about social care starting to see our sector as a positive place to make a difference and to have a career. People who routinely say I didn’t realise that’s what it’s about, but through the superpower of conversation, have started to see the potential, not the crisis. Like in Ireland, it’s about bringing people with you.
We have been thinking about “impact” and how the work in each area has a ripple effect in terms of outcomes.
As we move forward, our Community Coordinators will keep on aligning minds and finding mutual wins… one conversation at a time.
Area Manager, MacIntyre