The Pledge – Part Three
A YEAR OF LEARNING
Gratitude was the chosen theme of the first Happy Hub event of 2019 for good reasons. It was what Members said they wanted to talk about to mark the New Year. Quite frankly, a number of them literally didn’t expect to still be alive on 28th January. It was also the topic that best summed up our collective wellbeing journeys to that point.
From a straw poll conducted during the previous August 2018, 82 % of the Members told us that they were feeling better about themselves and life in general compared to 6 months earlier. Stating that the Happy Hub had contributed significantly to a sense of improved wellbeing. On top of that, a significant number wanted to invite along a friend or family member, to share in the experience.
That was music to our ears because “Being Heard, First and Foremost” was one of the key design principles of the Happy Hub service model from the get-go. We know when a person feels heard they want to share, and we sensed that this desire to share would act as a catalyst for anyone wanting to begin their wellbeing journey.
Being heard is the first big step towards personal agency and sustained wellbeing
As enjoyable as Hub gatherings are, the most interesting (and quite frankly rewarding) aspects of this our 4th prototype, are the conversations that occurred between the gatherings. That is where the nuanced data is shared and insights co-created in a confluence of trust and discovery.
January was “extra good” because the Hub was visited by colleagues from Health and the local Council. They witnessed first hand the magic of Members and Makers coming together to share each other’s wellbeing journey in a meticulously curated environment.
The unheard voices in communities are so often the key to unlocking transformation in complex systems
It takes an unfathomable amount of time and emotional energy to undertake the myriad of micro-conversations that make this work. These are the wrong numbers; missed calls; cancelled appointments and all sorts of telephone ping-pong that characterise the Navigation process. Still, when all that fails we don’t give up. We send out a hand-crafted, personalised postcard that says, not so much “wish you were here” but more “hope to see you soon.”
This preparation allows Members to arrive confident they will be made to feel welcome and be heard. Reciprocally, the Makers get a chance to prepare for the sessions and personalise their support well ahead of time. This process is essential lubrication for the conversation flow that Members and Makers appreciate so much when coming together.
The Navigation process also creates a surprisingly pleasing effect in so much as the Members and Makers somehow become equal partners on a journey. That’s because, even when someone cannot be there in person, they are always there in spirit. That is to say, their circumstances are known and their needs and interests will be serviced. So here are the 6 areas of learning that are emerging from the post-pilot analysis.
Insights from a Year of Learning
1. Supply Chain Dynamics Absolutely and Necessarily Do Work In a Community Setting
The sequencing of activity so that the right components come together on any given day/place in the service cycle is the basic tenet of the “Point of Care” concept on which our organisation is founded. We were able to consistently demonstrate this for every cycle of the pilot.
2. Space Making is Critical
Making members feel welcome and valued. When a member walks into the Hub for the first time it will either confirm or break their (often fragile) hope that the service is indeed offering something new. So the space for each Hub is meticulously planned, prepared and tailored for each session. This includes layout; food & refreshments; colours and furniture; room temperature.
This type of service requires meticulous and detailed planning in terms of understanding Members’ circumstances. There’s always a balance to strike, for instance, we regularly flexed the dates of sessions around Members’ availability. Much to their credit, the venue management team at the Hazellwell Hub bought into and supported this “awkward” requirement. Frequently going beyond the call of duty to accommodate last minute changes. In doing so, they became a critical link in the supply chain.
3. Members Make Makers and Vice Versa
The member-maker component is the framework for relationships within the service model. All service users are regarded as members with access to a range of wellbeing opportunities. Makers respond to Members needs to co-creating a personalised wellbeing journey. The diagram below illustrates the intersectionality of relationships that are produced by the Member-Maker model.
Bear in mind that in the pilot the cohort of Makers comprised a range of professions (including family doctors; specialists medics; yoga teacher, dieticians, mindfulness coaches, social workers) then the conversations being held took the form of the following dynamic:-
Figure a – Member Maker Relationship Framework
4. Food is Medicine
The Happy Pilot demonstrated why our relationship with food is fundamental to our wellbeing. It’s a complex equation involving the psychological; sociological and economic forces. Perhaps not so surprising that “food” was one of the most impactful components of this service model.
Members responded very positively to inputs about nutrition and food choices. Outcomes showed how and why they improve the management of medical conditions and wellbeing goals, such as increased vitality and weight loss. Deliverables were nutrition talks; recipe cards and a cookbook
5. There are No Shortcuts When it Comes to Transformation
Transformation of any type is a painstaking and meticulous endeavour. It involves the kind of forward planning one wouldn’t usually expect to see in a community setting. With constant juggling and tweaking to ensure that the right people all turn up, briefed and informed.
Going the extra mile is also critical. The key learning here is it’s about finding out what matters most to members, responding empathetically and taking action. Then on top of all that to be prepared to revise and modify in accordance with the shifting dynamics of “people living their lives”. In other words, something unexpected will always come up.
6. Communities are the “Well” in 21st Century “Wellbeing”
This takes us full circle. If the model is essentially a wellbeing supply chain, we recognise that the source of the raw material is deep within the fabric of local communities. That means respecting the innate capacity of localised relationships to generate value through the sharing stories (and therefore skills and experiences). Communities have and will always be both the “best medicine” and the “wellspring” of wellbeing.