Our September newsletter included updates on the Star Online system. We also introduced two new Outcomes Stars for mental health, the My Mind Star and the new and improved edition of the Recovery Star as well as updated research for the new edition of the Recovery Star™
Find out more
My Mind Star™ is an Outcomes Star for building and tracking well-being and resilience in young people and is for young people’s mental health and well-beining
The new and improved edition of the Recovery Star™: the Outcomes Star for mental health and well-being. This Star has been designed to support and measure progress towards recovery for adults experiencing mental health issues and contains changes to make the Star more appropriate, accessible and effective.
Joy MacKeith, Co-Founder and Director of Triangle, and one of the authors of the Outcomes Stars reflects on the Mental Health 2019 conference.
By Joy MacKeith, Director and Co-Founder of Triangle.
This was my second time at this conference bringing together senior NHS policy makers and service providers to chew over the state of the nation’s mental health. There certainly was a lot to think about….
Integration, integration, integration
The strongest message throughout the day
was to think holistically about mental health. Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public
Health England kicked things off by reminding us that the biggest determinants
of mental health are income, housing, work and social connection. This was then
driven home by Andrew Herd from the Department of Health and Social Care who is
engaged in the mammoth task of rallying all government departments around the
cause of mental health and inspiring, cajoling and sometimes requiring them to
factor mental health into their policy-making. It was refreshing to hear this
holistic drum being banged, music to my ears as one engaged in creating tools
which attempt to provide a map for the person’s whole life, not just the
problem that brought them through the door.
Young people on the top of the agenda
Most of the conversations that we had on our Outcomes Star stand were about My Mind Star – our newly published tool for early intervention with young people with mental health issues. There was real excitement about the strengths-based focus and intuitive visuals. The fact that it also provides service-wide distance travelled information was usually not the focus of the conversation, but nevertheless seen as an important plus. There is a big scale of up services for this group, Phoebe Robinson, Health of Mental Health for NHS England told us. That isn’t surprising given that a shocking one in three children and young people now have a diagnosable mental health issue.
Get ready for growth in social prescribing
GP, David Smart shared his experience of creating an integrated depression pathway in Northampton. What inspired me about this case study was seeing just how much difference can be made when people step out of their normal ways of doing things and look at a problem freshly. Social prescribing plays an important part in their approach and is an example of integration in action. It was mentioned often through the day as an approach that is on the rise. I was extra pleased when I heard that they are exploring the use of the Well-being Star to collaboratively assess needs and the measure outcomes of their social prescribing work.
Interested in finding out more about the Outcomes Stars for mental health and well-being?
The Recovery Star Fourth Edition is a new edition of the Outcomes Star for working with mental health and well-being. My Mind Star is the new Outcomes Star for young people young people’s mental health and well-being. Find out more here. To find out more about which which other Outcomes Stars are suitable for organisations working with mental health and well-being, please take a look at our sector page. For more information on the Outcomes Stars and our licensing and training options please contact us: email Triangle at email@example.com, or call on +44 (0) 202 7272 8765.
Joy MacKeith: Joy is a co-creator of the Outcomes Stars. She leads on innovation, data, research and the theory behind the Star. For more information on the evidence and research that underpins the Outcomes Stars visit our evidence and research library. Please contact us for any further information: email Triangle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a new and improved edition, drawing on independent research and feedback from service users, keyworkers and organisations.
The new edition retains the person-centred, strengths based approach of previous editions but with even more accessible language, incorporating trauma-informed thinking and fuller acknowledgement of the impact of external factors.
There is fuller recognition of the necessity of on-going support for enduring and severe conditions. It is backed by a report on independent research into the psychometric properties and a review of literature supporting the Journey of Change and choice of outcome areas.
Both Stars were launched at the Govconnect Mental Health 2019 Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine on 26th September.
If you have any questions about our new Stars, any queries about transitioning between the Recovery Star 3rd Edition and the new Edition, or you would just like find out more about how the Stars can support your service users, keyworkers and organisation, please contact us on email@example.com or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.
With the bulk of the project kicking off at the start of
this year, we now have just under 3 months before the new product will go live
for those new to the Star Online (existing accounts will be migrated from the
old system to the new between January and March 2020).
During the last 9 months, we’ve made some significant
Establishing an Agile process – using the iterative, user-focused development approach but in a way that fits with redeveloping an existing, established product already on the market
Weekly (and sometimes daily) sessions between Triangle and QES, to flesh out the specification and turn it into well over 100 user stories – a simple way of capturing what the system needs to do from the point of view of its users
A high-level prototype of the key elements of the system, to ensure a shared understanding between everyone working on the development and to iron out key design decisions
A work in progress site, developed with over 10 sprints so far (a sprint is a two or three week chunk of time with planned goals and tasks) – iterated and improved as we go
Ongoing input and direction from a Think Tank made up of practitioners, managers and data analysts – reviewing key decisions and the prototype as it developed
It has been a fascinating project for us so far. As a social enterprise our expertise is not
in software development, but in building tools that help organisations to
create change and help people to achieve the outcomes that matter to them. We knew that building an effective
relationship with our new partner QES was vital both for the short and long
In the early stages, we had to learn how best to communicate our ideas and requirements. Taking the time to do this has paid dividends now that we are in the thick of the detailed development, with greater understanding from both sides. Our experience of working closely with our existing partners, Jellymould and TappetyClick, has also proved invaluable, especially as we balance continuing to support the current system and preparing for the new one.
We are running a period of testing with practitioners, managers and commissioners, as well as our team across Triangle, into October. We’ll then be busy incorporating that feedback and finishing the development up to the end of November.
In parallel, our Helpdesk team will be working closely with
organisations already using the Star Online, to share information and plan the
migration of each account.
If you have any questions about the new system, please
contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44(0)20 272 8765.
Introducing our new vision for the digital home of outcomes-focused keywork
By Sarah Owen, Product Manager at Triangle
The Star Online web application for the Outcomes Star was first launched by Triangle in 2011. As the Star has grown in popularity and in use across different sectors and services, so has the Star Online.
Today the system is used by over 800 organisations and 45,000 frontline practitioners, to support over half a million people and to record nearly 900,000 completed Stars.
Listening and responding to feedback
Over the last 8 years, we have heard from many of the practitioners, managers and commissioners that use the system. You told us that, although many aspects of the original design still hit the mark, there are frustrations with the system, such as the limited range of reports available and the lack of flexibility in how services can be configured.
Alongside this feedback, technology has improved exponentially since the original development, with digital service design now utilising cutting edge, user focused tools and programming approaches.
To respond to this, we have committed to a significant level of investment in the Star Online, and since last year, we have been working with QES to completely redevelop the system.
Collaborating with specialists and practitioners
QES is a specialist developer of web based and offline apps, supporting secure digital data solutions to a diverse range of public and private sector clients. Other QES developments include the eCDOP (online recording, casework and reporting for child deaths) and Holistix Early Help case management system.
The development of the new system is well underway. We’re retaining a focus on intuitive, simple design whilst also radically improving what is on offer – for example, with a complete overhaul of reports and tools for analysing Star data, and by introducing more options for how services, teams and people can be configured. Throughout the process, we are collaborating with a small group of practitioners, managers and Star Leads – also known as our Think Tank – who represent a broad selection of organisations using the current system in the UK and in Australia, and who are reviewing our plans and testing out the system.
Timings and next steps
Our timeline is to launch at the end of November 2019 for
new users, and to support existing clients using the current Star Online to
migrate over to the new system by March 2020.
We will have more information for existing clients soon and are working
to make the migration from old to new as straightforward as possible. We will of course be providing guidance and
support throughout the process.
For more information
If you have any questions or any ideas you’d like to share with us, contact us on email@example.com or +44(0)20 272 8765.
Sara Burns, Director and Co-Founder of Triangle, and one of the authors of the Outcomes Stars™ explores what it means to Triangle to be a social enterprise.
By Sara Burns, Director and Co-Founder of Triangle, June 2019.
When we incorporated “social enterprise” into our name in 2009, it seemed entirely natural and obvious to me, yet I gave it little thought and there were few guidelines at the time. Fast forward 10 years and I find myself passionate about the concept and practice of social enterprise, as well as better informed and in a sector that is becoming more defined.
In our case, the expression of our social mission and our enterprise (business activity) are one and the same thing. There are many types of social enterprise, including those who raise money through a neutral business activity in order to fund a separate social mission. As Triangle, we develop Outcomes Stars and other tools and help organisations use them because we believe in their transformative potential. We witness time and again in many sectors how the right tool can support people to really listen, have good conversations, plan and deliver support, gather meaningful information and learn about what works. Like so many people, we are operating in a world where services and funding are severely squeezed, and our aim is to keep listening and learning, so we can continue to innovate and make a contribution.
So why am I passionate about social enterprise?
There are a number of reasons.
We make choices and decisions based on what is helpful at a
sector level, not what will bring in the most money. This has been the case
since we started. It provides a refreshing clarity
and simplicity; even though the choices are not always immediately obvious,
we are able to focus on the question of what will be most helpful. Somehow the
big decisions and changes of direction over the years have always been made
easily and harmoniously, and I believe that is because of this clarity of
Receiving an income from the expression of our social
mission in the world, rather than relying on grants or other funding, gives us
relative freedom and independence.
Ultimately, the majority of our income from training and licenses can be
tracked back to the UK government, we collaborate widely in developing Stars
and other tools and respond as best we can to different needs and agendas. Yet,
at the end of the day, we are the authors and can make decisions based on our
learning and experience of what works. And we can plan ahead without the
limiting factor of short term funding and the inevitable uncertainties that
Similarly, because we have an income and are committed to
reinvesting at least half of the surplus each year, we have some freedom to be generous and experiment. We offer
training and licenses at (often below) cost to enable small organisations to
use the Outcome Stars if it’s right for them. We provide implementation support
according to need, not based on what people pay. We take risks and invest in
new developments before there is a market for them.
All this contributes to a working life that is more fun and meaningful. Money is powerful
and I enjoy the potential it affords to be successful in making a contribution –
to use the very particular expertise we have built up over the years for good.
My anecdotal impression is that some people who enter the social enterprise sector, while passionate about their social mission, feel ambivalence or even resistance to the enterprise/business aspect, to money and charging. Ultimately, this can result in lack of sustainability and good ideas not getting off the ground. When everything feels too tight financially, that can be stressful and less enjoyable. Being confident about embracing the enterprise aspect and charging realistically for services and products can open some space. Space is important for people to be able to move freely, take risks, be creative and innovate. That is the culture we seek to develop and maintain within Triangle, so that everybody working with us feels able to contribute ideas and enjoy the sense of purpose, clarity and independence, so that we can be as helpful as possible in the challenged world of health and social care.
Interested in finding out more about Triangle’s mission and values?
For more information on Triangle, please take a look at our Values. For more information on the Outcomes Stars and our licensing and training options please contact us: email Triangle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call on +44(0)202 7272 8765.
Sara Burns: Sara is co-creator of the Outcomes Stars. She leads on and is continually inspired by developing new versions for new sectors, as well as overseeing all the other ways Triangle can be helpful and support people to use the Star well.
For more information on Triangle and the team behind the Outcomes Stars, please take a look at our About Triangle pages. For more information on the Outcomes Stars and the values that underpin each version, or explore the history of the Star at About the Star or please contact us with any questions: email Triangle at email@example.com.
This month’s newsletter round-up includes news on new reports; two new Outcomes Star case studies; new Star research and pyschometric findings; links to Family Nurse Partnership’s newly published blog post on the development of our upcoming New Mum Star and an interview with Clare Burrell, Head of Strategic Commissioning and Policy for Children and Families at Essex County Council on the Family Star (Relationships) the new Star for reducing inter-parental conflict.
New resources and reports
We have recently published a new set of psychometric factsheets as well as a short blog on the role of psychometric testing and why it matters. We also introduced new resources including:
The Family Star (Relationships) was one of two new Stars published by Triangle in September 2018. It is designed for services working with families where inter-parental conflict is a major focus, with the aim of protecting their children from the harmful effects and enabling them to thrive. We recently interviewed Clare Burrell, Head of Strategic Commissioning and Policy for Children and Families at Essex County Council, who was one of the key collaborators spearheading the development, to find out why they invested in the development of this new Outcomes Star and to hear her thoughts on Triangle’s collaborative process.
Clare, could you tell us a bit about your role and how you first came across the Outcomes Stars? I lead on Early Intervention where, like others, we take a holistic approach to our work. Five years ago, we set up our Family Innovation Fund which is delivered by voluntary and community providers across Essex. It is important for commissioners to understand and know that the right outcomes are being delivered and to evaluate the impact of the work. It was then we took the decision to ensure that all the providers of these services would use the same outcomes tools, so that we could measure apples with apples rather than apples with pears! The aim was that doing this would strengthen the case for what works and help us develop the economic case for early intervention. Our intendent evaluators, Traverse, reviewed the outcomes tools available and they recommended we adopt the Outcomes Stars. As a result we prescribed the Family Stars to our providers and over time, they have come to realise the potential and usefulness of them as tools.
How did your focus around inter-parental conflict develop? The primary outcome of our work was family stability and through our work with whole families, it became increasingly evident within the early intervention space that if we were going to improve outcomes for children, we needed to focus more sharply on parental relationships. At the same time, we became one of 11 Local Authorities working with the Department for Work & Pensions, to develop the evidence for what works to reduce inter-parental conflict. It was then that we partnered with colleagues at Hertfordshire County Council and with DWP, to commission an Outcomes Star that would support our work in this area. We needed something different to any of the Stars which already existed, to take in the specific intricacies of relationships.
Did you find anything challenging about the collaborative process to develop a Star? Inter-parental conflict is a relatively underdeveloped area of practice, so there was quite a bit of interesting discussion and some challenges for everyone to agree on the focus and content for the Star. A couple of providers decided not to continue with the process and pilot because the Star didn’t fit with their way of working with families – they didn’t have enough time with parents in conflict or were solely focused on getting an agreement for contact with children rather than working holistically, for example. It was helpful to have a provider with vast experience and knowledge of domestic abuse – they made an invaluable contribution to ensure that the Star didn’t inappropriately stray into that space and that it was clear where practitioners using the Star would draw the line.
What would your top tips be for anyone considering collaborating with Triangle to develop a Star? I would say there are two main areas. The first is getting the right people around the table. It can be hard at times, but it is important that the right voices and heads are in the room for the key Star development sessions. I focused on the ‘unusual suspects’ – people who came from all different perspectives but who would challenge and mix up our thinking. It was also important to get people who were committed to the whole of the process, as it takes a considerable amount of time – over a year in our case.
The second is to plan your pilot upfront and think about how you will get buy-in from practitioners. It’s more than just being in the sessions, it’s about committing to piloting the tool and feeding back throughout the process. We piloted with our commissioned providers, and some of our in-house services. This particular Star brought a challenge because it was used only as and when an inter-parental conflict focused case came up, so that limited the amount of data and feedback and made it more difficult to evaluate in a meaningful way, beyond case studies. That said, practitioners love the new Star and are using it in their work, including in unexpected circumstances – as an example one practitioner has recently used the Star to support a teenager and parent in conflict.
And lastly Clare, what are your hopes for the Family Star (Relationships)? My plan is that this Star is embedded in practice. Essex is a big place, but we are doing a lot to make sure that our practitioners know about this Star and that it is part of their toolkit to use with families and that they can draw on it when inter-parental conflict is the main issue for a family they support.
Many thanks to Clare for her time for this interview.
The Family Star (Relationships) is designed for practitioners working to identify and support the resolution of inter-parental conflict so that outcomes for children and young people are improved. It was developed by Triangle in 2017 – 2018 in collaboration with Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council. Please see the Family Stars page for more information about the new variant for supporting parents to manage conflict: the Family Star (Relationships).
94% of practitioners piloting the Star indicated they found the Family Star (Relationships) described the situation, strengths and needs of the service users they worked with either well (either fairly or very well). 80% of parents who completed feedback about the Family Star (Relationships) said it helped them understand what they needed in the way of support.¹ For more information about how Stars are developed, and Triangle’s collaborative process please see our Star Development page.
For an example of Star data in action, please see the recently published evaluation report from OPM Group for Essex County Council’s Early Help Programme, the Family Innovation Fund (FIF). FIF used the Family Star Plus and My Star as primary evaluation tools, with practitioners completing Stars in collaboration with service users, as an integrated part of the Early Help support being provided. Star data was used to demonstrate change, as part of an economic evaluation, and to make the case for early help provision.
This month’s newsletter round-up includes news on two new Stars, newly published research on using Star data with research and evaluation in Early Help services, job vacancies, future Star development as well as upcoming events.
Outcomes Star events
Triangle are running free events across the country in Brighton, London and Glasgow for service managers and practitioners of frontline services. Morning sessions are for services who have heard about the Outcomes Star and would like to know more, afternoon sessions are for services who already use the and will focus on implementation and getting the most of out of the Star and data. Spaces are limited: find out more and book your place here.