From Great Principles to Practical Action. Learning from Wellbeing Teams

Last month Helen Sanderson and colleagues shared their learning from the amazing Wellbeing Teams initiative. Next the team will be going into detail in a series of sessions for our council and support provider member communities. Read more here...

Helen Sanderson

When Martin Routledge asked me to share our practical learning from Wellbeing Teams with Social Care Future’s council and support provider communities I was delighted to oblige! Martin’s thought was that the practical approaches, tools and methods would be of real use to others determined to take tangible steps towards the Social Care Future – in homecare and beyond. We agreed that with colleagues I would prepare an overview on-line session to be followed up by a series unpacking the detail for community members. In this blog I have offered some thoughts and ideas in response to questions raised in the session.. You can watch the recording HERE and have a look at the session slides HERE I look forward, with my team, to sharing the detail in seven sessions for the communities starting October. If you are a council or support provider not signed up yet, what are you waiting for! The link to: Community of Support for councils The link to: The Big Connect for support providers.

Wellbeing Teams occupied my existence for 4 years from 2017 to 2021. I became the Registered manager in October 2017 and almost held my breath until CQC Inspectors came and rated us Outstanding in 2019. It was the hardest and in many ways most significant learning of my life.

We started with these questions:

  • Can we support people to live well at home and be part of their community?
  • Can we do this funded by commissioners?
  • Can we do this through self-managed teams?

Martin and I are big Meatloaf fans, and I guess two out of three ain’t bad!

Preparing for the webinar with the team really was like a trip down memory lane. My role was to briefly introduce the history of Wellbeing Teams, and summarise our achievements. Here is some of what we achieved with our first teams, in the two years that we worked in Wigan.

The teams in Thurrock were evaluated, and the Council found that when people were supported by Wellbeing Teams there was 5x less turnover (than the national average), a third less sickness and people we supported were 5x less likely to go to hospital.

After I had finished my section of the webinar, I handed it over to my colleagues who each did an 8-minute session on one of the areas they lead on. We used these sessions to find out what else people want to learn about in the webinar series we are hosting at the end of 2024 and into 2025. I was a ‘chat monitor’ and tried to answer the questions that people asked.

Here is a selection of what people were interested in, and some of their questions.

How can assessment feel like a conversation?

Ben led a session on how we did the initial conversation with people we supported, and learned what mattered to people, and what their priorities were for change. The conversation was strength based, starting with what is strong rather than what is wrong with the person. He shared some cue cards that we developed for the teams in Camden, and there was a lot of interest in these in the chat.

One of the questions in chat was can you do that and still meet statutory requirements. The answer is absolutely, yes.  Ben has a webinar on this, but if you want to know more in the meantime, and get a copy of the cue cards, please contact him at

How can we practically deliver on outcomes using The Support Sequence?


Building on Ben’s session, Michelle then explained how we developed outcomes with people, and used the Support Sequence to come up with creative ways to deliver the outcomes. Using the Support Sequence means that we always consider technology and community solutions, rather than going for paid support as the only option. Need help with the cleaning? Using the Support Sequence you are likely to come up with at least 6 options before paying someone to do the cleaning.

The questions in this section were focussed on whether it is more expensive to be creative? The answer is generally no, sometimes technology is expensive (eg robot hoover Eufy is £165) but it is balancing that with the ongoing costs of other options. Michelle will be comparing and contrasting costs in her webinar in the autumn.

How can we take stock and move forward using Person-centred Reviews?

Ben explained how important Person-Centred Reviews were in Wellbeing Teams. They took place every 6 months, with a mini review each month with the link Wellbeing Worker and the person.

Do they take more time? Can they fulfil statutory requirements if providers do them? They usually take about 1.5 hours, and not only fulfil statutory requirements but most importantly, what the person wants to change next in their life and how we can support that.

How can we recruit for values?

One of my proudest moments in Wellbeing Teams was being awarded the Guardian Public Services Award for HR and recruitment. We won it for our approach to Values Based Recruitment, and as we had no HR department winning an HR award still makes my chuckle. Developing our approach to values-based recruitment was in many ways one of our biggest achievements, and crucial to how Wellbeing Teams worked. Only 10% of our team members came from homecare, and most were from outside health and care. Michelle explained the empathy-based marketing approach that we used, and the importance of relationships and continuity. The candidate experience is crucial – what do you want people to think, feel and do at each step of their journey into employment with you?

People were excited to see this in practice when Michelle shared a short video of a recruitment workshop in Thurrock. If you are interested in this, Michelle can send you the link if you contact her at

How can we retain team members and support them to thrive?

Of course getting new team members is one thing, supporting them to stay is another. There is a chasm of doom’ between the appointment and start date and Emily talked about the promises we made to team members, in a postcard that was sent the week after they accepted the offer of employment.

How can we create compassionate workplaces?

Emily is our lead for compassionate communication and she introduced ways that you can create more compassionate workplaces. In induction new team members are trained in NVC (Compassionate Communication) and then coached to put this into practice. These are the cards that Emily and coaches used with teams to help them put their learning into practice. If you want a PdF copy of these, please contact her at

Threaded throughout the chat were questions about how you can use these approaches – with people and teams – in organisations, rather than a start-up like Wellbeing Teams.

I am very keen to share how you can do this, so we have put on an additional webinar that I will lead on ‘How to introduce some of the practices from Wellbeing Teams into your organisation’ in March next year. If you can’t wait that long, please email me!

It was a wonderful trip down memory lane, and we have not stopped building on what we have been learning. Three years ago, we had the opportunity to work with Camden Council to set up two Wellbeing Teams at Charlie Ratchford Court. We have been invited to go back, and evaluate the learning, and see what can be used in other established services. We will be sharing early learning on Linked In.


The recording from the ‘Learning from Wellbeing Teams’ that took place on 27th June 2024 can be found HERE  and the presentation slides used HERE



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