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New report shows importance of stability and relationships to people facing multiple and complex needs

New report shows importance of stability and relationships to people facing multiple and complex needs

19 February 2015

A new report published by Revolving Doors Agency looks at what people facing multiple and complex needs identify as important for a ‘good life’.  The research encouraged a group of people with experience of multiple problems and long-term social exclusion to focus on their goals and aspirations. It found that people prioritised symbols of stability such as secure housing and mental wellbeing, and found strength in helpful relationships and support networks.

The report also highlights important considerations for commissioners and local services, reflecting on the outcomes that are most important to service users themselves.

Those taking part in the research were drawn from Revolving Doors’ National Service User Forum. All had experienced multiple and complex needs, including a combination of mental ill-health, substance misuse, homelessness, and a history of offending. The research team took a creative approach, asking people to visually represent their ‘good life’ through collages before discussing these with researchers. 

The final report, A Good Life: Exploring what matters to people facing multiple and complex needs, outlines the main findings from the research, as well as depicting the collages themselves. Key findings from the research include:

  • Most of the participants prioritised stability, emphasising the importance of a ‘normal’ life with realistic goals, underpinned by a sense of being internally content
  • Positive relationships could play a key role in recovery, being motivational and supportive. They may come through professionals, children and family, or people with similar experiences
  • The good life includes things beyond the traditional remit of services: informal support networks or outdoor activities and sports, and these can play an important role in the recovery journey.
  • The journey towards the good life is as important as the destination, and will involve setbacks and difficulties.

A Good Life calls on public services and commissioners to build on this report through working in collaboration with service users when defining success criteria. It highlights that ‘quality matters’; something consistently highlighted as important to participants, who also commonly spoke of the benefits of positive responses from frontline staff as opposed to the stigma and judgement they had faced too often.   

The report concludes that services should endeavour to provide genuinely personalised support which works at the pace of service users, avoiding  the broad targets that  made some participants feel pressurised and  acknowledging that each individual has a unique mix of priorities and perspectives on what they want to achieve for a ‘good life’.  

Vicki Helyar-Cardwell, Director of Research and Development at Revolving Doors, said:

“Although listening to the views of service users is increasingly seen as a good practice, we are not yet at the point where public service funders routinely recognise what people with direct experience consider to be important priorities to them. This report shows how crucial this perspective is, and why commissioners should involve service users in setting key outcomes. Readers will see from the report that our participants had reasonable, relatable aims. Support that incorporates these aims could have personal and societal benefits.” 

For more information call Lucy Terry on 020 7940 9745 or lucy.terry@revolving-doors.org.uk

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