Xmas 2017 extended special issue

NB:   PIElink's Xmas 2017 bumper special issue was to be the last of Editor Robin Johnson's (fairly) regular monthly newsletters, as he tried hard to wind down towards some kind of retirement in the summer of 2018.   Over the next few months, we expect to see instead a series of guest editors, offering their own selections of the best and most useful material of the past few moths. 

But PIElink's Xmas 2017 bumper special issue had not one but three special focus / themed areas on:

  • Working with the built environment
  • Approaches to reflective practice
  • More individual 'voices'
  • And a virtual Xmas stocking full of other goodies ..........................................

Working with the built environment
So we begin with an aspect of PIEs that we have rather neglected of late: working with the built environment. We have two valuable checklists - practical and easy-to-use tools that services can use to assess the extent to which the environments in which they work are well PIE'd; and then some examples and observations to stimulate ideas.

Well-being by design (2): the questions you might ask (HERE
Danielle Routledge of Genesis Housing Association has made a very useful reworking of the Boex twins' paper, published here some years ago, on reducing stress with small changes in the built environment.  Danielle's re-write turns that original article's ideas into a practical tool for assessment, a set of questions you might ask yourselves.  

A checklist of trauma-informed care principles in built environment design (HERE)
Another self assessment tool on the built environment, comparable but different, allows services to score their building and furnishings for trauma-informed sensitivity.  This checklist was produced by Jill Pable of Florida-based Design Resources for Homelessness. Their own website (HERE) has many other useful and inspirational resources.

The characteristics of successful supported housing programmes: 'single site' Housing First in Finland (HERE
The beginnings of a discussion by email with YFoundation, one of the leading exponents of Housing First in Europe, on the built and social environment principles implicit in their use of 'congregated' ( aka 'single site' ) accommodation in their permanent supported housing.
NB: This correspondence complements and extends a newly published account of their work in an ebook, 'A Home of Your Own' (HERE

'The director of first impressions' (HERE
(A short podcast, in which Kingsley Dawson, publisher, is visiting Dunedin Harbour hostel, in Edinburgh: and comments on their open plan reception area, with views on the importance of the receptionist.

Note that all these items on the built environment, in the new website structure, will appear under a new heading: 'Spaces of Opportunity'. 

Relationships and reflective practice
The new PIEs model  ( 'PIEs 2.0' ) treats the two central themes of relationships building and reflective practice not as specialist areas, but as running through ALL aspects of the PIEs approach. Next, we had several items which explore this idea - and find reflective practice helping to bring about more person-centred, needs-led and emotionally engaged work in a range of services.

Developing PIEs through reflective practice in Bristol mental health services (HERE)
Dr Sian Clark reports on the developments in in-patient psychiatric care in Bristol, as part of the introduction and spread of PIE approach across that city through the Fulfilling Lives Golden Key programme. 

'Empathy, tenacity and compassion': reflective practice and a relationship-centred approach in child care social work (HERE
Amidst growing concern, in government as in the profession, that child care social work was becoming too procedural and risk-averse, Brighton and Hove undertook a systems change initiative to restore relationship-based practice as the necessary foundation of the work. The study - with quantitative as well as qualitative assessment - finds that building relationships, staff support, and more reflective practice, are key. (Sounds familiar?)

Trauma Informed PIE (training video) (HERE)
The latest video in Ray Middleton's 'Ladder for LIfe' series offers some useful thinking on making reflective practice central to building other aspects of the PIE, including some of the ideas from Open Dialogue. Ray suggests it  can be seen as an example of how the new PIE model, like any proper software upgrade, is 'backwards compatible'......
NB: The graphics for this video were produced just before the new PIEs 2.0 model was unveiled. But the spoken narrative has since been re-edited to use the broader, more inclusive  language of the revised model. 

Must reflective practice just be something done in reflective practice groups? (HERE)
Robin Johnson on reflective practice in the learning organisation  - how and why reflective practice, in the new PIEs 2.0, runs through all aspects of an organisation's work.

Another area we have neglected of late is the 'Voices' page, where we get to hear from individuals about their own experiences. For this special issue, we had now three, with different accounts to tell; and a couple of other items, with a surprising twist.
Why you should give money directly and unconditionally to homeless people  (HERE
This opinion piece by Matt Broomfield - the founder of User Voice, a charity led and staffed by former homeless addicts, writing in the New Statesman - challenges the view that giving money is simply feeding their dependency. (See also: Steve Robertson on the psychologically informed business model of the Big Issue, re-issued: (HERE)
NB: this item appears as part of our new page on the ethics and politics of PIEs. The rest of the items on that page will follow in coming weeks.

Three forms of identification and a letter from God (HERE
A briefing for medical staff - and their receptionists - from the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health on how to not exclude; written by a formerly homeless worker, drawing on his own lived experience to inform others.

Salford man has to have leg amputated to have a home (HERE
One individual's story, as told by his brother, that simply caught the eye.


And now for a selection of other useful items from the past 3 months on the theme of:   From youth to age

Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness training (HERE)
A new study of mentalisation in schools argues that with teenagers, trust and co-operation cannot be assumed. This study highlights a particular need for appreciating more the core skills of engagement; and anything that helps in obtaining trust.
But a 30 minute session of teaching youth that personality is malleable can have long-lasting effects and change behaviour. (HERE)
More optimistically, a recent study indicates that teaching young people about plasticity - that personality changes, especially in response to new experiences - has a more immediate effect in allowing them to change their behaviour. This study gives support to the suggestion that 'purely' cognitive approaches may be particularly beneficial for some young people.

Too attached to attachment? (HERE
Meanwhile, a debate has broken out in the pages of The Psychologist, the journal of the British Psychological Society, over the real value and predictive power of early childhood attachment and 'attachment styles" on the mental health of the child later in their life - in adolescence or adulthood.   This paper, which argues that the evidence for 'critical periods' in child development in humans is simply not as strong as many claims made, and proposes that other factors such as those supporting resilience need to be considered, is part of an extended discussion on an earlier sceptical commentary by Elizabeth Meins, Professor of Psychology. 
For a briefer account, see/hear also Elizabeth Meins herself, on BBC Radio's All in the Mind, discussing the lack of evidence for attachment styles in children having a long lasting effect on adult lives. (HERE)

Mental disorders in offspring of parents who have been homeless (HERE
Nevertheless, a study of over a million children in Denmark finds evidence that the children of parents who have been homeless are particularly susceptible to attachment and substance abuse disorders. (We here have tended to argue that it is adverse life experiences over an extended period that lead to 'compound trauma' and 'complex needs'; and that intervention at ANY stage is never too late....) 

A second class ending (HERE)
This report, exploring the barriers and championing outstanding end of life care for people who are homeless, is produced jointly by the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health and the Care Quality Commission (the regulatory body for healthcare in the UK) and includes examples of cross-sector practice and hospice care.

"Hospice care is applied ethics' - values based practice in Arbor hospice. (HERE
This podcast - soon to be turned into a video - is an interview with the medical director of a hospice in the US Mid-West with a reputations for excellence in palliative care healthcare. In addition to this, the staff team had recently come first in a local competition - the 'Ethics Slam' - for how they treat ethical dilemmas not as an unwelcome distraction, but as central to their care approach.
NB: this clip ends with a discussion on how ethics and empathy can equally well form the heart of a PIE.

Peer support and 'kindliness' in supported accommodation (HERE
This study, produced and published by the Housing LIN,  outlines interventions which can be used to seek to engender the culture change often necessary to optimise peer support and kindliness in sheltered housing environments. Key PIE-related elements include the importance of the building design is highlighted in creating a sense of safety and security - through physical features; but equally through a sense of community resulting from peer identification (knowing your neighbour)
NB: One particularly interesting feature of this study methodology was the use of performance poetry and interactive theatre to engage residents, and encourage them to give their views. At which point........

 .......finally, something very different:

Men who sleep in cars (HERE
Because sometimes poetry and drama really can make connections no report or statistics can match, this gritty story, now a TV play, interweaves the lives of three men who are just at the hidden border of homelessness.
We hear it from their side – which can be very different from ours.

Empath man (HERE
Taking still further the idea that poetry and imagination also have a role to play, we conclude with a hilarious recitation by Matt Harvey, with the story of a very contemporary superhero.

As in all such dramas, its starts with a freak accident, in which our hero acquires the superpower of empathy; and as 'Empath Man', now fights crime and injustice with “advanced listening skills, and an ability to stay open and vulnerable in a tight situation”…...


And in conclusion, with the season of joy, peace, good cheer and reindeer nearly upon us, let me hear you all say:

"Bah! Humbug......."