‘People think that stories are shaped by people, but it is in fact the other way around’

Terry Pratchett

The importance of the role of stories in learning goes back to the time of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He suggests that for people to learn meaningfully, the evidence presented to them needs to create both an intellectual and an emotional response.  Stories do this.

You can view here two excellent contributions to our 2021 webinar on stories:

Narrative Dialogue: Using Stories to Navigate Difficult Conversations, Tim Chapman

Magic and Tragic Moments: Ideas and Methods for Storytelling, Nick Andrews

Benefits to the person / family

Stories are central to a personal outcomes approach. It is possible to use measurement approaches to track outcomes with people over time. However, to really engage with what matters to people and make good decisions with them, we need a narrative approach. Having the opportunity to be listened to, to be treated with respect and valued as a human being are among the process outcomes identified originally by SPRU at York University (see Evidence & Learning section). Recording what matters to the person or family as part of planning/case recording validates their perspective and accords them further respect. Outcome focused recording, capturing stories in brief, mirrors the conversation, helps to thread the past through the present in imagining possible futures.

Benefits to practitioners

Engaging with story or narrative practice also helps practitioners to understand what matters, helps improve decision-making and avoids failure demand on services (see evidence). Sharing stories helps people to connect on a human to human basis and supports the relationship based practice that most practitioners prefer.

On a larger scale, it is possible to analyse multiple human stories to tell a bigger evidenced based story about what works for whom in what circumstances and we are building capacity to do that. (link to qualitative data)

In this blog about the Developing Evidence Enriched Practice (DEEP) project, you can find out about how stories and dialogue were blended in a project to embed evidence in older poeple’s services.

A call for stories

In order to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and the seismic challenges faced by the health and social care sector, the Personal Outcomes Network asked members to contribute stories of how they were staying focused on outcomes during this time.  This included outcomes for supported people and unpaid carers as well as for staff. We sought examples where people were able to keep focusing on outcomes, despite the challenges. 

39 stories from 41 storytellers were gathered in the Spring of 2020 with a further 20 updates to the stories collected in the Autumn. Interviews with storytellers took place at the end of 2020 with a workshop in February 2021.

A shared experience: outcomes for people through the Covid-19 pandemic

In collaboration with Iriss, the stories and experiences gathered through this project were formed into a multimedia learning resource. This resource includes key learning points, short films and audio clips of the storytellers sharing their insights.

A recording of the launch of A Shared Experience which took place on the 26th of May 2021 is also available. This provides the background to the research and a showcase of the resource.