David, co-director shares thoughts on the kinds of practice ideas best suited to effective use of the Outcomes Star.

The Outcomes Star is designed as a holistic, strengths-based, client-centred tool that enables meaningful conversations between workers and service users, establishes priorities for action and measures progress over time.

Of course, no tool is perfect or can ever substitute for the skill required to facilitate its conversational use. The Star’s effectiveness depends on workers bringing their best intentions and skills alongside necessary training in the philosophy and practical use of the Star. It also depends on organisations ensuring the Star is a good ‘fit’ with their values and ways of working. For the Star’s potentials to be realised it requires organisations to embrace it as a key expression of their practice approach so that it becomes an essential element of ‘this is how we do things here’.

After some years of observing organisations implementing the Star it appears to me that it works best in organisations with particular practice ideas, approaches and cultures.

This makes me wonder whether it’s possible to more specifically name the aspects of practice and culture that are congruent with, and support, effective Star use.

I suggest the Star may be most effective when used by workers/organisations who:

  • Are committed to working for a more socially just world
  • View their clients as partners and collaborators
  • Seek to support clients to articulate the hopes and dreams they have for their lives
  • Seek to identify and build on client strengths and resources
  • Listen carefully for the initiatives clients are taking in the face of trauma and difficulties
  • Show a deep respect for clients’ culture, gender, abilities, and spirituality
  • Bring both a genuine curiosity and humility when working across cultures
  • Know that clients are the primary experts in relation to their own experiences
  • Believe that clients are usually striving to make the most of their situation and are doing the best their current resources allow
  • Seek to understand the effects of trauma and respond in ways that are trauma-informed
  • Believe that ‘the problem is the problem; the person is not the problem’ and seek to externalise problems rather than pathologize people
  • Know how crucial it is to identify, name and acknowledge the broader factors including social inequities and injustices that can restrain clients’ efforts to make changes
  • Actively seek to connect people struggling against similar issues or injustices and to foster/support advocacy initiatives
  • Understand the importance of developing goals and action plans that are genuinely co-designed with clients
  • Know that sustainable change takes time and requires a focus on small realistic steps
  • Know that noticing and measuring change can encourage and inspire further change
  • View change as a social project, knowing that people usually require the support and belief of others to make changes
  • Know that the effectiveness of any practice tool relies on the commitments, ethics, skills and knowledges of the worker
  • Remain realistically optimistic about people’s capacity to make preferred changes
  • Realise that effective practice requires ongoing learning and reflection at all levels of an organisation
  • Know the value of feedback and shape services in response to actively sought client ‘voice’
  • View the Star not just as a ‘client tool’ but also as a resource for stimulating practice reflection and the growth of better skills and more consistent services

I’m keenly interested in your thoughts, reflections or feedback. 
What grabbed your interest or attention?
How do these ideas resonate with your own experiences or reflections?
What did this get you thinking about?
What (even small) actions are you considering in response?