Triangle, the social enterprise behind the widely used Outcomes Star tools, is calling for a paradigm shift in social provision. In a new report to be published in September 2021, co-founder and Star co-author Joy MacKeith argues that at its heart service delivery is about meeting human needs and changing behaviour. Everything we know about how change happens points to the importance of relationships, trust and connection. Research also shows that services must be holistic and tailored to each person. But the ideas currently driving social provision steer the focus away from relationships and flexibility and onto procedures, markets, targets and standardisation. They break service delivery down into parts rather than focusing on the whole system.
The report presents an alternative vision – an enabling approach to service delivery. Called Enabling Help, this alternative puts the focus of the service delivery system on the service user, rather than the helper, the service or the intervention. Enabling Help builds relationships, trust and hope, develops skills and capabilities, is holistic, responsive and tailored to each individual person.
It also paints a picture of what it means to make Enabling Help a reality in practice. At the front-line it means moving to a collaborative approach rather than telling and directing. For managers it means changing the emphasis from managing procedures to enabling front-line workers to deliver relationship oriented, collaborative, flexible, problem-solving services. For commissioners it means shifting the focus from numbers to narratives – co-learning with service providers about what works.
‘Enabling Help’ builds on Triangle’s twenty years’ experience of helping organisations to support and measure change for people receiving services. Working with over one hundred collaborating organisations including local and national charities, housing associations, grant-making trusts, local authorities and NHS trusts, has provided a unique insight into what works when supporting change and building well-being and potential. And training and supporting over one thousand organisations to use the Outcomes Star in practice has highlighted what can get in the way of delivering what works. This report pulls all this learning together and identifies the real reasons why people being helped get stuck in services and the people delivering the help feel frustrated and de-motivated.
The report calls on all those involved in service delivery from front-line workers, to managers, commissioners, researchers and policy-makers to embrace this new set of ideas and put relationships, responsiveness and learning at the heart of everything they do.