Fife Pilot - Connor Goes Swimming

Service improvement aims

The first Fife pilot site for Connor Goes Swimming was organised by the Children and Young People AHP Lead for NHS Fife, to complement other strategies that have been introduced to support service transformation: Care Aims and Effective Conversations training.

The pilot group

The multi-disciplinary group (see below) took part in a three day preparation training which they’ve just finished.  In the first two days the group is introduced to the methodology and how it works.  

  • NHS Fife – Speech and Language Therapist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist
  • Education – an Education Manager plus teachers from mainstream schools and a special school.
  • Social Work – a Social Work Assistant
  • Voluntary Sector – key workers from PAMIS and ENABLE.

In the following weeks they work together on a small project to practice using the Tool.  The third day (six weeks later) is spent reviewing that experience, identifying learning and working with the strategic team to plan next steps.


The first step for the group is to identify an example from their local environment of a need that could be met using the Tool.  They are encouraged to choose something small and simple to start with to get some experience of using the Tool with ‘real’ people (as opposed to one another in the training group).  Usually people choose an informal team meeting or conversation with a family (where a long standing relationship exists).

The three AHPs in the group chose a particularly complex case which one of them had, and brought colleagues together to explore the best way to support the family.

We invited professionals to an informal case review.  I wondered whether other professionals would fully engage with the idea of adopting another character in the discussion and how in-depth the case discussion would be.  But it became clear very quickly (to my relief) that they engaged really well.  It’s certainly something that I would now use directly with parents and young people to achieve joint goal setting.

The Speech and Language Therapist summarised how the training as a whole had impacted on her practice:

The training has really helped me consider the parent’s perspective and in particular what they have going on their lives.  It’s made me think about what they’re expecting from me as a clinician and from our service.  Before, I might have assumed that the parent understood how the service worked and what their role is within that.  I have been having these types of conversations with parents when setting therapy goals via Care Aims but the difference of having these open discussions at the initial conversation stage means that we’re beginning that sense of partnership early on with clear ideas about each other’s roles.

As a result of the training I’m delving more deeply into what the parents think, the difference they can make and what matters to them the most at this time.  I feel more confident about finding the best outcome at this initial stage in negotiation with the family (and the young person).  Also, I’ve found that providing more information about our service and how we work at this early stage is appreciated and well-received by the parents and seems to naturally break down barriers early on.  Having these types of conversation early on has meant that by the time the parent attends assessment clinic (if this is the next step), they are more open to working jointly with us in helping to set realistic outcome goals together.

One view expressed by the AHP practitioners was that although the techniques they learnt on the programme were useful with colleagues, they couldn’t see how they might use the storyworld itself.  They wondered if the scenes were more useful for student learning and mentorship.  This probably reflects a general hesitancy about using story based learning for the first time – it feels like a risk (colleagues may feel patronised).

However, as the Tayside pilot group discovered, practitioners – including very experienced practitioners – engage with the stories very well and get a lot out of using them.   This was also found by the teachers in the group; they used some of the scenes with fellow staff who appreciated the opportunity to open up discussion (and challenge assumptions) about one another’s roles.

Next Steps

The group identified a several ways in which they will take the work forward:

  • Storyworlds Life will run a workshop in January for individuals and families invited from PAMIS, ENABLE, Kindrid and Barnardo’s to help them prepare as employers of personal assistants for their son/daughter.
  • The teacher from the group who works in a special school is planning to work with the parent council (which has shown interest in using the Tool) to see how the Tool could support family/staff conversations.  She also wants to see how it might be used at one of the in-service days for PSAs (Pupil Support Assistants)
  • The AHPs in the group will use the Tool for peer reviews and self-reflection.

We’ll post an update at the end of January.

To find out more please contact us.


In 25 years as an OT working for the NHS, this is the first time I’ve spent a whole day – let alone three whole days – in a room together with all the agencies involved.  It’s been fantastic!

Occupational Therapist, NHS Fife

Understandably, conversations about children and young people can be emotional for parents.  The beauty of this approach is that it isn’t personal and so helps parents to have more a voice in the conversation

Education Manager, Fife Council