Posted: Monday 6th July 2020
All of our locality MyST teams get together once a fortnight for a joint reflective practice session. This week we discussed data. More specifically, we discussed scores on a psychometric scale gathered six monthly about all of the young people using our service. We wanted to know what this data told us about our work with children, families and foster carers.
At the end of the previous joint reflective practice session, in which we had discussed some very interesting clinical matter or other, we had announced that data would be the topic for next time. The announcement produced a collective groan, and cries of ‘It’s so dry!’, ‘It doesn’t really convey the complexity of mental health and our work!’, and ‘It’s just for other people to see, I want to talk about the kids and families!’.
Despite this opposition to our idea we went ahead with our data review. So this week we presented an overview of the information we had for each child, and we posed some questions for our teams to chew over:
What interests you about this information?
If it as any value at all, what might that be?
How might it be improved?
Our questions did not seem to inspire and certainly there were still no pulses racing from our colleagues. Then we said ‘Anyone can fall in love with an accountant, even though he wears a grey suit, he’s still a person.’ ‘You’re pushing your luck there’, came a response which indeed we were but the teams duly got stuck in to their considerations of our questions, and then an interesting thing started to happen.
‘The data shows how faltering and idiosyncratic the process of change is.’
‘In order for others to understand why the data is like this we need to be able to better articulate the contexts that our young people are in.’
‘We need to talk with young people much more about their goals and how they and others see them progressing. We need to discuss this data with young people more often.’
And on it went, this process of growing intrigue and enthusiasm, until one of our colleagues voiced what seemed to be the collective experience: ‘I can fall in love with an accountant when I get to know him, personally, intimately, and I can see beyond my prejudices about his image.’. And that’s how our passionate, creative teams discovered even a love of data.
We say that we make use of everything in our grasp to help the children and families that we work with, it turns out that we have to consider absolutely everything available, even when it seems dull at first glance. It strikes us that there is treasure everywhere when we really look with an appreciative eye.
Jen & Jael
Foot note: We sincerely hope that no damage was done to any accountant in the making of this piece.