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'Three Conversation Model' Transforming Lives Cambridgeshire County Council Adults Learning Disabilities Team

Lead service provider/commissioner


Cambridgeshire County Council

Type of knowledge

Type of knowledge:

Project description only

Prevention service description

The Three Conversation Model is an attempt to move away from traditional approaches to assessment that often lead to long waiting lists for service users and excess paperwork for staff; and instead starts with a simple conversation in which practitioners ask the person to identify what it is that they need or would like to happen. Instead of spending time asking lots of irrelevant questions the team are able to spend more time getting to know the person and identifying solutions that will enable them to engage with their community and live a successful life. The model is tiered with each of the three conversations representing a different level of intervention: Conversation 1: “How can I connect you to the things that will help you get on with your life – based on your assets, strengths and those of your family and neighbourhood. What do you want to do? What can I connect you to?” Conversation 2: “When people are at risk what needs to change to make you safe and regain control? How do I make that happen? What offers do I have at my disposal, including small amounts of money and using my knowledge of the community to support you? How can I pull them together in an ‘emergency plan’ and stick with (like glue) to make sure it works?” Conversation 3: “What is a fair personal budget and where do the sources of funding come from? What does a good life look like? How can I help you use your resources to support your chosen life? Who do you want to be involved in good support planning?”

To support this new way of working, the team have found that it is important to recognise that the local community is itself a resource through which solutions can be identified. They have even found that local businesses can provide a positive source of support, for example when the team liaised with staff at a local coffee shop to ensure that a client could carry on visiting one of his favourite places, or by providing autism training to staff at a local library. For more formal sources of support, the team have found that it’s important to ensure that both commissioners and providers are on board with the new way of working, for example when asking providers to arrange care without a preliminary assessment (as part of a rapid/crisis response to needs identified during a level 2 conversation).

Intervention/service type:

Information and advice; Community capacity building

Target client group(s):

Adults with learning disabilities

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