Being able to demonstrate the real benefits and impact of support is ever more important – and rightly so.

As support providers, it is vital that we are able to show very clearly how our work makes a real, tangible and positive difference in the life of each and every person we support.

Easy to say – not so easy to do! So how can we do it?

We have been very successful in making effective and positive use of person-centred approaches to improve the lives of the people we support. Having said that, we still need to take a step further to be able to really measure and understand the effect of our support on the lives of people.

Over the past year, United Response has been working with a group of organisations across health and social care to develop a new “outcomes star” for learning disability. Outcome stars already exist in a number of other fields including mental health (where we have been using the outcomes star for some time), but developing one for learning disability was entirely new.

The star identifies ten key areas in people’s every day experiences, and teams work with people they support, to mark on the chart what stage of progression they think they are at in each area – and then where they want to be, through a journey of change on the star. Consequently, the outcomes star is – as it says on the tin – a truly outcomes-based tool. It enables us to develop, measure and summarise numerous changes in the lives of people we support by providing a plan and means of plotting progress in order to achieve key goals.

After receiving very positive feedback from the success of piloting the outcomes star, we are now rolling it out across all our work. We will be using it particularly in preparation for the person-centred review as a really useful focus for discussions around "What's Happening Now" and identifying "Here and Now Goals".

Of course, the outcomes star is just one of many tools that we use to deliver best practice in our support. It adds to the person-centred planning tools we already use and to our central “Way We Work” framework which puts each person right at the heart of their support plan.

Over the next six months we will be training staff how to use the star across the organisation so that they become familiar with its use and as a result, for it to become embedded in their support.

Diane Lightfoot, director of communications and fundraising.