Report review: Good Help and Bad Help

| Helen Sharp

Providing good help is not simple nor is it the only solution…but it is effective and deserves to be taken up beyond a few relatively small scale programmes.

Published by: Nesta and OSCA

Written by: Richard Wilson, Christina Cornwell, Esther Flanagan, Nick Nielsen and Halima Khan

Date: February 2018

I think one of the most significant elements of this publication is their use of the terms ‘good help’ versus ‘bad help’. It is brave of Nesta and Osca, the organisations behind the work, to so openly name and shame the traditional, paternalistic, deficit-based model of support and to describe it as ‘bad’. I wonder how it will be received by the services (the majority at the moment) who are still working in this way, particularly when they are working within a system which supports and maintains ‘bad help’.

That aside, this report is an interesting mix of theory and practice, backed up by numerous examples and case studies. It focuses primarily on behavior change and how a sense of purpose and confidence to act are the key drivers that enable this to happen and how they should be nurtured by support systems.

My highlights

There is much to praise and it is reassuring to see the similarities between what constitutes ‘good help’ with many of the stories and projects we have shared on the Hub. Most notably:

  • It gives you a real sense of where help isn’t helpful and how many factors interplay to create and maintain that type of provision – time, capacity, funding and policy
  • It reminded me of a number of different theories in behavior change and introduced new ones, from Bandura’s Self-efficacy theory to Bruner’s Scaffolding theory
  • I liked the cycle of action which demonstrates how a sense of purpose and the confidence to act interplays with the person’s life circumstances (page 14)
  • There’s a good section on helpful digital technology which is something I think should be explored more by health and social care sectors (page 32)

And it’s great to see a nod to social movements, to complement the blogs we have recently showcased from the Health as a Social Movement programme. Scroll down for links!

I think this publication will be a welcome read for managers and practitioners trying to figure out how to shift their practice away from deficit working. It also provides a call to action for anyone interested in getting involved in the project in the future. You can find the full report and more information here.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska

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