A Game is not just for Christmas ……

Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment

‘The room was filled with laughter and everybody embraced the project so now we’re going to do something like this every month!’

It’s great this month to hear the new possibilities emerging from the senior team at Halliwell, in Tunbridge Wells.  They had a go at exploring playfulness by playing a game together. At Ladder to the Moon games are not just for Christmas and not just for children either. A game is something where people invest their time fully together in a process of ‘doing’ without – for once – being concerned about the outcome.

They allow for some ‘messing about’ by creating false purpose. Messing about is not just a great pastime it allows people to ‘re-create’ themselves as individuals and we strongly recommend it.

So why might all this be particularly important in a care? Well we notice, and people tell us, that actions and conversations in homes tend very often to focus on the achievement of specific outcomes.

While these conversations can still be creative in nature the outcome focus can constrain the thinking to doing the things that we know will work. Nothing wrong with that but often there is no newness, inspiration is missing and there is no space for discovery.

As part of the support we give to companies developing their culture of creativity, we ask leaders in homes to try out new approaches with their teams that open up playfulness. We ask people to try out some ‘games’ together because ‘games’ provide fresh opportunity to build openness, acceptance and relationships.

Games allow a world where the outcome doesn’t really matter – even though we may feel the edge of competitiveness in the playing.  We have found that to improve relationships and trust the most productive games are often those that have the most impossible outcomes to achieve. And they usually cause the most laughter, which allows for openness and connection.

Such was the case at Halliwell when the Heads of Department, who meet every month, were split in to 3 groups and asked to build the tallest tower in 30 minutes, out of sellotape, marshmallows, string and spaghetti (uncooked!).

Each team member was assigned a role e.g. time-keeper. They discovered their ingenuity more as the materials ran out, in the case of the sellotape, or simply didn’t comply as when spaghetti snapped and marshmallows melted.

I am told that the results rival the famous towers of Blackpool and Paris – and the leaning tower in Pisa and the team were talking about their efforts for days afterwards.

Congratulations Halliwell for bold creative leadership and encouraging the heart of the senior team!