Reimagining Help Guide: Working on what matters

Why is working on what matters important? Organisations that seek to understand what is important to each person are better able to tailor support to help people change the desired behaviour and reach their goals.

If people identify what is important to them and what goals they want to work on, they are more likely to take action. This might seem obvious, but many of our health and care systems are set up to offer standardised solutions to people, with little room for tailoring support. Starting conversations with ‘what’s important to you and what do you want to work on?’ might feel quite different to some practitioners who are used to working with directive approaches.

People should be supported and encouraged to set goals relating to any aspect of their lives that are important to them, such as physical and mental health, work and finances, or family and social life. As mentioned in Social connections, goals can also be collective (a group of people who care about achieving the same thing)

Once people have decided on their goals they should be supported to create plans for reaching them, building on their strengths, interests, achievements and wider social support networks. Where organisations feel unable to support people with particular goals (for instance, a care leaver who mentions to their GP they need help accessing specific benefits), they should aim to connect the person to organisations that can help.

Working on what matters:

  • Increases capability for behaviour change because people learn what moves them towards or away from their goals - for example, practical resources or psychological barriers to change.
  • Increases motivation for behaviour change because it enables people to connect with and focus on the things they care about, which increases commitment and engagement with the goal over time.
  • Increases opportunity for behaviour change by enabling people to connect with groups or activities that link with their personal interests and goals and which unlock new opportunities for social support and peer learning.

  • Practitioners often have limited time to ask open questions. Moving Medicine guides practitioners on how to make the most of 1 minute, 5 minute or longer conversations with people with a range of health conditions, building in behaviour change evidence to support people to become more active.
  • Dance to Health connects people’s love for dance and music with evidence-based exercises that are proven to help reduce falls in older people by increasing mobilisation, endurance, strength and balance
  • Supporting practitioners to have conversations that focus on people’s strengths, interests and goals (rather than focusing on the ‘problem’). This could consist of offering coaching conversations in non-clinical settings (e.g. leisure centres) that start with ‘what do you want to work on?’ and ‘how do you want to get there?’
  • Cornerstone works with people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism and dementia. Each person is given the opportunity to select their own care team based on the staff they feel align best with their dreams and strengths.

Using the information above, start to brainstorm ideas to try out in your organisation or community. Think about how to co-design ideas with other practitioners and people in the local community who could benefit from Good Help. Use the map below to help you test and develop your ideas.

A guide to refining and testing your ideas against the evidence and common pitfalls

Explore the next Good Help characteristic

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