Let’s start today’s blog with a quick quiz…
What tools do you use to promote your productivity and support your everyday functioning?
Did you think of any of the following?
- Lists – to keep you on track
- Agendas – to allow you to be prepared for meetings
- Minutes – to remind you of discussions held and agreed actions
- Visual Frameworks – to help you make complex decisions (e.g. SWOT analysis)
- Mind Maps – to support formulation of your ideas
- Diaries/ Calendars – to help you organise your time
- Alarms – to remind you to undertake important tasks
You may not have thought about these as support tools before, but take a minute to consider how they shape the way in which you are able to engage with your world, how they support your thinking processes, and how you would function without them.
Now for your second question…
How often do you use these support tools with the people who access your service?
Always? Regularly? Occasionally? Never?
In my experience, despite valuing and making regular use of a range of such tools in their own lives, few mental health professionals consider using them in their day to day practice to support communication and decision-making with their service users.
How does your service fare? Are you the exception or the rule?
How many meetings do your service users attend without having an agenda to allow them to prepare what they want to say and how they want to say it?
How often do you expect them to remember all the information from a conversation or meeting rather than providing a minute or action plan as a reference point?
How often are complex decisions made through discussion alone without use of a visual framework to provide structure to consider all the relevant factors?
A large proportion of the people I meet who use mental health services report that they experience memory problems, struggle to sustain their attention and/or find it difficult to make good choices so why would we make it harder for them than we do for ourselves?
Good communication is about more than just talking to people and we don’t need to do anything fancy in order to do it better. If a support tool is good enough for you, then it is surely good enough for the people we work with and support.