#Blogtober: Storycircles

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23 / 10 / 2014 12.01am

By Sandi Drewett

#Blogtober Day: Thursday 23 October

Every man needs his space - there’s a man shed in Thanet. It wasn’t there last year. It’s a space for service users with dementia. It’s a space away from the ward where men can work on projects in a safe way, at their own pace and in a safe friendly environment. There’s a choir on a ward. It wasn’t there last year. It’s a space for service users to find their voice and sing with others. There’s a pat dog that visits an older adult ward. He didn’t visit last year. He provides company and comfort to service users.

These and over 15 other service improvements are the result of two staff storycircle workshops. These workshops brought together front line staff and invited them to tell stories of when they had experienced something extraordinary at work. The themes from these stories were collected and used to support ideas of what could be done to be extraordinary more of the time. Using the other participants in the room ideas were generated and evaluated and over the next six months put into place.

Each workshop lasted four hours and had around 20 people. In the scale of culture change and OD interventions it’s fair to say it’s a tiny one. Yet the outcomes have far exceeded the expectations. It’s helped to break down some of the barriers between managers and front line staff, it’s improved service user satisfaction on the wards and it’s allowed front line staff to tell and hear their stories and lead for improvement and change regardless of hierarchy and professional position.

In OD we are often focussed on the big strategies, the workstreams and programmes that deliver culture change and this can feel overwhelming or that we are under resourced. Sometimes a small perfectly crafted intervention can maintain our energy and faith to make a difference.


Sandi is the Director of HR & OD at East London Foundation Trust and would like to thank OD consultants, Mayvin, for their contribution to the storycircles project. Sandi can be contacted by email address or for more information on the project, contact Juliet Flynn, Senior OD facilitator at Kent and Medway Partnership Trust.

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