A single framwork for services for complex needs

One of the central ambitions in the various attempts to identify the essence of a PIE, and the key issues to address, was the hope to find a single framework, a shared language for the processes and values for all those working with people with complex needs.

These, it is suggested, are those most at risk of marginalisation and social exclusion if only because their needs and their behaviour may not fit the eligibility criteria for one support service or another.

To achieve such an ambition, the framework would need to be:

  • broad, and as comprehensive as possible
  • versatile and flexible, adaptable to specific services and contexts
  • practical in the detail, to make it useful to specific services in their own development
  • scaleable, to work at any level from a soup kitchen to the board of a larger organisation
  • suitable for research to explore and share what works where.

This was a lot to ask. But the advantage of a single framework would be that by focussing on the underlying issues :

  • it may help services and other supports to see through the more immediate and superficial concerns, and give them more freedom to consider wider issues, and respond with greater flexibility
  • it should allow more services and support programmes to understand and recognise the work of others, to find what they have in common and find ways to work together, even where they themselves might have a different focus, measures, or accountability.

This, it is hoped, may help to prevent so many from falling 'between two stools', or through the holes in the safety nets that any society of community provides. .


The disadvantage of a single framework would be that

  • the language would have to be quite general. In each practical situation, it would be necessary to customise this language to some degree, to suit the particular circumstances, the client group or the setting. In practice, this does not seem to be too much of a problem.
  • the language would have to be quite abstract. This proves more problematic. The abstract language can seem rather distant, rarified and theoretical; and this can be quite off-putting, even intimidating.


For the moment at least, the PIEs 2.0 framework remains our best attempt to get to the essential features, however general or abstract; and it is designed to then allow services to customise from the general to the specific. However, there is still work to be done.

For those who might like to get actively involved, see for example " PIE 1,2 - & 3?" (HERE): and/or the Forums pages (HERE); and/or browse for background through some of the other suggested links and papers, in the second column here.


Further background reading/listening/viewing

(The discovery and translation of the Rosetta stone, above, first made it possible to find the common meaning in long-forgotten ancient languages).

PIElink pages and key links

Finding the words - a service user friendly language for PIEs and the Pizazz : HERE

A little bit PIE'd? :  HERE

Is it a philosophy? : HERE

FAQs: Ambition and modesty : HERE

Is the PIE evolving? (summary) : HERE

A PIE of pathways  :  HERE

PIEs 1, 2 - and 3? : HERE

How's things? - the coffee break Pizazz: :  HERE

Customising the PIE Abacus : HERE


Library items

A customisable framework for PIEs : HERE

Do 'complex needs' need 'complex needs services'? : HERE

Locality based PIE services network support: an interview with Sam Chu : (HERE)

Making Meaning: the art of common language construction : HERE

The democracy of pidgin : HERE

The Pizazz: a new and fully customisable framework for PIE self-assessment : HERE