About Me

Helen_incircleHello, my name’s Helen Sanderson. Welcome to my personal blog.

Over the last 20 years I’ve been immersed in developing person-centred practice, both at home in the UK and internationally. I work in social care, healthcare and education, have advised the government, and have written quite a few books to share what I’ve learnt with others.

I started my career in occupational therapy, and also worked in social care for 25 years. Now I lead social enterprise consultancy Helen Sanderson Associates, am the chair of the HSA Foundation, and a founder of our charity, Community Circles.

It took writing 13 books to be able to add ‘author’ to my twitter bio, and I keep my PhD pretty quiet! I am still learning and trying and testing and developing, and I work with a fantastic team. You can learn more about what we do and how we work at helensandersonassociates.co.uk, and our resources and books are available through HSAPress.co.uk.

I live in Heaton Moor with Andy and my three daughters, Ellie, Laura and Kate, together with a dog, cats and hens. Although I am a black belt in karate, I now try to spend more time doing yoga, and am learning mindfulness.


What matters, really matters

My focus is finding out what matters to people and how they want to be supported, whether that’s a patient in hospital, an older person in a care home, somebody with learning disabilities, using mental health services, or a child in school.

But it’s more than just knowing what matters – it’s being able to act on that, through learning about people’s aspirations, how they want their life to be different, their outcomes or their goals. It’s about working together to enable people to have the life they want, and have greater choice and control. Some people call this person-centred care, or personalisation, or co-production.

This matters to colleagues as well. It’s about understanding what matters to each other in our workplaces, and how to support each other to get the best out of each other. Some people call this staff engagement, person-centred teams, or simply being happier at work.

Communities matter, as they can help to bring people together to support each other. Through Community Circles I want to make circles of support happen at scale, for anyone who wants one. You can learn about this on our website, or by reading my latest posts on the subject.

Supporting people well is incredibly important in our hospitals, too. A personal turning point was when my mum was admitted to hospital from a car accident. She spent two weeks as the ‘hip in the corner’. Since then, working in hospitals to see how we can create a more compassionate environment for everyone has become a priority.

I want to contribute to answering the questions:

• How can we create person-centred organisations and systems, where everyone is seen, and treated as an individuals?

• How can we have happy workplaces where colleagues know that they matter?

• How can we support each other in communities, so that they are warm, welcoming places where we all thrive?

By exploring these questions, and coming up with practical solutions, we can create social change that leads to better lives. If you’ve got any questions, thoughts or ideas to share on the subject, let’s connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Periscope; or by email. I’d love to hear from you.