Eight ways to Wellbeing Teams work

This short animate describes how a Wellbeing Team supports Norma and Jean – but it is only half the story.

Wellbeing Teams offer a fresh approach to home care, that is different in two ways: how people are supported and how the team works together. The ‘wellbeing’ in Wellbeing Teams stands for both people supported and for team members, you cannot do one without the other.

For the team this means being self-managing. As Daniel Pink,  in his provocative book about motivation called Drive, says

“Ample research has shown that people working in self-organized teams are more satisfied” than those working in traditional teams.

This blog describes eight ways that self-managing Wellbeing Teams are structured and supported, providing the other half of the story.

1) Handbook and Team Plans.

There are two important documents that describe way that the team works. Team members have a copy of the Wellbeing Workers Handbook and the each team co-creates their own Person-centred Team Plan. Together they form the basis of the induction. For every new team member this is a completely different way of working, the handbook is a way to explain what this means, so that people can keep coming back to it until it becomes second nature.

The Wellbeing Workers Handbook has three sections:

  1. How we work together – values, being a self managed team and roles
  2. How we work with people – the principles, processes and paperwork used to support people
  3. How we work as part of an organisation – a summary of the policies and procedures that people need to follow

The handbook is standard, but every Person-centred Team is different as it is created by the team, as their personal way of working together, through the induction. The team plan includes:

  • One-page profiles for each team members
  • Individual purpose and co-created team purpose
  • Individual and team values and strengths
  • Team agreements (how we are going to work together)
  • Work history graphic and aspirations
  • Feedback (best ways to give feedback and what people want feedback on)
  • Communication charts (so that people know the best ways to keep in touch)
  • Typical week (so that we know key times that people have regular important commitments)

The Person-centred Team Plan is kept updated and live in two ways – through the development sessions in team meetings, and through the Person-Centred Team Review every six months.

The team develops their one-page profile as part of the recruitment process. Here is a short film that shows the first induction day for the Lytham Wellbeing Team and how they developed their work history, individual purpose statements and team purpose;


2) Roles

As the team manages itself, there are specific roles that managers would have done, that the team does themselves. Some of these are shared, and individuals take other roles.

The role that is shared is being the Link Wellbeing Worker for individuals. This is done on rotation, each new enquiry is allocated to a team member in turn, so that everyone has the same opportunities to be Lead Wellbeing Worker. This person has the initial conversation with the person, and based on their outcomes and priorities, designs the service with them.

The other roles are for:

  • Meeting facilitator and development
  • Community Navigator
  • Scheduler
  • Assistive Technology

The decision about who does which role is made during induction, based on strengths and interests. Team members are asked to propose themselves for the role that they feel best suited for, and a second choice, and the team decides between them who then takes which role. The roles are changed every 6 – 12 months (the team decides when). The person who had taken the role, then becomes the coach for the next person who takes that role.

3) Coaches

There are two kinds of coaches in Wellbeing Teams. There are short-term coaches for specific roles and an overall team coach.

For each of the above roles, there is a coach who has expertise in that area. In the Lytham team, James proposed himself as the Community Naviagator and Helen Smith, the Community Circle Connector is his coach. Together they worked with the team to plan how to map the community, identify key people, and share information about the Wellbeing Team and Community Circles. Sometimes the coach may be in another Wellbeing Team. The coach’s role is to support the new team member for 2 – 3 months until they are competent and confident in their role.

The team coach is the Registered Manager, who supports the team through induction and ensures that each person is competent in their role as Link Wellbeing Worker, and passes the Care Certificate. Then her role is to be available to support the team to problem-solve any issues that are struggling with, for example, managing someone being ill within the team. The coaches are not decision-makers, they can facilitate problem-solving and offer advice if asked, but the decision always stays with the team.

4) Buddies

Unlike the short-term role coaches, each team member has a buddy within the team – another team member. The purpose of having a buddy is to both support and challenge each other, and to provide feedback. People choose their own buddies and together they work out how they stay connected, and how often.

5) Staying connected

The team uses top rated App ‘Slack’ to stay connected. There is a general channel open to all teams, for example where I post blogs like this, and news, and each team has its own channel for team communication.

There are also channels for people who fulfil the same roles in different teams can connect, for example there is a channel called Community where the Community Circle Connectors and Community Navigators across teams can share tips or ask questions.

The ‘random’ channel is where team members share – well – random info, jokes and photos. The Lytham team have been working on their Five ways to Wellbeing, and on ‘take notice’. People being posting photos connecting to taking notice (for example a sunset) as well are more random photos of pets and family.

6) Team Meetings

The Team meeting process combines Positive and Productive Meetings and elements of Holacracy Tactical meetings.

This includes:

  • Review of actions and metrics (team performance)
  • Updates on any changes for each person supported, by the relevant Link Wellbeing Worker
  • Raising and addressing tensions (problems, issues)
  • Development session

The development sessions are to continue to develop as individuals, to deepen the teams understanding of each other , and to keep developing how they work together.

This may include watching a Ted Talk (eg Amy Cuddy’s on body language), practicing Non Violent Communication, using ‘Team 15’ around a person-centred thinking tool, looking at what is working and not working about putting the team agreements into practice, or looking in depth at one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing. The development sessions are also opportunities for the team to present and share with each other, for example, doing a presentation on ways to reduce falls.

At the end of each session the team meeting facilitator will check whether the team has learned/changed anything that means that the person-centred team plan needs to be updated.

7) Scenarios and on-going learning and development

Each fortnight there is an hour’s session via video conferencing to look at scenarios. Scenarios are real situations that have happened, that the team reviews the situation and what they can learn from this, This could be how to improve an outcome, other ways to solve a problem, or practicing moving from outcomes to the support sequence. Team members present their situation, and the coach works with the group to facilitate, support and challenge. This is how the team keeps developing its practice using real world situations where they can practice thinking creatively and solving problems in new ways, as well as getting feedback. These sessions are recorded as a resource for new team members and teams.

The team also uses other ways to develop skills and competence without going on traditional training courses. The training courses generally available would not be a good fit with the self-managed teams approach. The team uses podcasts and audio sessions to listen to, perhaps between visits. The Lytham team is currently listening to one on Non Violet Communication by Sounds True. In a few weeks they will reflect on what they have learned in the development session at the team meeting.

8) Person-centred Team Review

Every six months the team coach facilitates a person-centred team review. This means looking at what is working and not working from different team member’s perspective, and from the Community Circles Coordinators perspective, in relation to living the team’s purpose, the team agreements, roles and processes. This leads to the team agreeing their own team outcomes and actions for the next six months, and updating the team plan to reflect this.

The design of the structure and support for Wellbeing Teams is inspired by Buurtzorg, and draws heavily on our existing work on person-centred teams, Daniel Pink’s work on motivation and Kegan and Lahey’s Deliberately Developmental Organisations.

This is Version 1. We are learning with the Lytham and Doncaster Wellbeing teams about what works and what needs to be tweaked and changed. Version 2 will then be tested with the two Scottish teams, and then with the new teams we are planning in the South West. I will share the updates here, and would love any comments and reflections on Version 1. Thank you.