Back in March last year we launched a new Single Point of Access (we call it a SPA) for Wiltshire Children’s Community Services, bringing together colleagues from different areas of the administration service to form a central team.
It was a difficult journey because the SPA was completely new. We were bringing together a new service in a new system, a new phone line and a new online referral form. The team was suddenly faced with answering calls from parents and GPs for services that they had never come across before, so they had to learn on the spot.
I can’t describe how exhausting the process was. Of course, we had teething issues as with any new project but we worked really hard to get the SPA working well. As with any transformation project, things change every day and we were adjusting to it as we went – when something didn’t go to plan we looked for a better way of doing it, and sometimes that involved changing direction very quickly.
It was important to make sure everyone understood our vision for the service, which is to have a better, more joined-up service for the children of Wiltshire. With this kind of project, it’s easy to get caught up in the negatives, so every time we had good feedback I would really celebrate that. So, I would share any praise that came in from people accessing the service with the whole team.
I was nominated for a Feel the Difference award by several members of the team for always managing them in a positive and resilient way. I find this approach is the best way to get the best out of people – I’ve always got time for them, and I will listen to them and encourage them. You need to make sure everyone feels valued.
Sometimes it’s hard work to be that kind of manager all the time – it is quite draining, but you never want to say no. When people ask me to help with something I always make sure I smile and say: “Yes of course I can.” It was nice to get that feedback because it shows hard work does pay off.
We’re still improving the SPA, but the project has made significant progress. The team were wonderful and they really embraced the challenge. The SPA wouldn’t work if we weren’t a team, it is not the kind of job where you come in and have your own workload – we have to support each other. They are a fabulous group of people to work with.
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