Why everyone needs a Great Interaction

What older people’s services could learn from the 10 Facilitation Skills, by Beth Britton

When I first met with former MacIntyre CEO Bill Mumford in Autumn 2013 he gave me a book, ‘Great Interactions’, and outlined the work MacInytre had done to understand what makes their best support workers so good. From this, MacIntyre had devised the ’10 Facilitation Skills’.

Since I met with Bill, I’ve had numerous meetings with people running health and social care services, mostly within traditional older people’s dementia settings, but one thing stands out from that Autumn 2013 meeting at MacIntyre’s Head Office. Amongst every initiative a care provider has introduced me to, be they their own or something that’s been delivered to their staff from a training provider, nothing has impressed me as much as the ’10 Facilitation Skills’.

Why? Because any individual in any health or social care setting could benefit from care and support delivered by staff who understand and practice these skills. All of the skills are equally important – a complete, holistic package. And yes, they are remarkably obvious – you’d think every professional in health and social care would practice them, but my experiences suggest otherwise.

Time and again when I talk with people on the frontline of health and social care services, I am pointing out that they need to remember their positioning and ensure they make eye contact with the person they are supporting. Touch and warmth are also vital in helping people who are living with dementia and feeling distressed.

How you communicate will affect every interaction you have. Creativity, or a lack of it, will be the difference between the people you provide care and support for having a good day (or not), and how you listen, observe and respond will either mark you out as one of those invaluable, indispensable care workers or someone who is just going through the motions, task orientated and processing people like a factory worker processes consumer goods.

But of all the 10 Facilitation Skills, reflection is the one I talk about most frequently. This seems to be the skill that the majority of people struggle with, maybe through the perception that they don’t have the time or they don’t know where to start. But it is from reflection that we learn and develop the most.

I regularly urge managers I meet in older people’s dementia care settings to look at the 10 Facilitation Skills, print them out, put them on staff notice boards, in offices, and make them part of mandatory induction. If your staff can ‘get’ the 10 Facilitation Skills, and practice them consistently, then you will be a step closer to everyone you provide care and support for having lots of ‘Great Interactions’.

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  • Donald says:

    I like what Beth is saying so much. I can relate to what she is saying in my job and in my day to day life. And I see that some, if not all are interlinked as too many times I hear some people say this person can’t communicate because s/he doesn’t or can’t talk. All you have to do is look at someone’s eyes, face expression and so on and just by a simple smile you can tell weather someone is happy or not. Eye contact sometimes mean sitting next to someone if they are in a wheelchair or what is easier of them as someone who you support may like to see your face and see you laugh as communication is a two way thing. And if you are working/supporting someone for a length of time you should get to know the way they are. And I learnt that from something my line manager said to last week.

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks Beth – it was a good day all round when you came to meet Bill and “discovered” all about our DNA, Great Interactions and the 10 facilitation skills. This is so fundamental that we should never take for granted that it is obvious or easy – you’re right how we behave impacts on whether someone else has a good day or a bad day – what’s more fundamental than that.

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