Problem Trees


In phase 1 of the New Models for Learning Disability Day Support Collaborative we identified the ‘key development areas’ for Collaborative teams to explore:

  • Making services truly centred on the person by changing the focus from support needs to life aspirations and people living with learning disabilities being able to have equal opportunities to live life to its fullest potential.
  • Encouraging partnership working across all organisations who in some way provide support for people with a learning disability - including the promotion of collaborative working between staff in these services.
  • Staff empowerment, finding ways to build on best practice and make this the norm. Giving permission for staff to think creatively about how support is provided to a person and to advocate for the person’s needs.
  • Changing the hearts and minds of communities to better support and promote opportunities for people with a learning disability within their local area and wider society.
  • Supporting families to take a break and have the confidence that the person receiving support is happy and safe.

In phase 2 we worked with the collaborative teams and external stakeholders to explore what the underlying challenges are under each key development area.

Using a ‘problem trees’ approach we gathered insights from this range of stakeholders who clarified the ‘problems’ and explored the underlying challenges.

The insights contained in the following maps were gathered through engagement with multi-disciplinary and multi-sector project teams in the New Models for Learning Disability Day Support Collaborative.  We also invited external stakeholders from national and topic-specific organisations to provide a broader range of perspectives.  

The findings are never considered absolute, rather they are an initial exploration of the challenges with a number of national and local stakeholders.  This approach led to us offering an additional session to explore how transport had emerged as a consideration that required further enquiry.

The findings contain guidance on how to apply the approach in any context.

The resulting maps can be used in service design in a number of ways:

  1. Plan engagement: Use the maps as a starting point to plan the themes of discover activity and ‘sense check’ you planned aims and questions.
  2. Validation: Have these themes and challenges have been confirmed by your service stakeholders in your discover/engagement activity?  If not, might you want to explore these with the different stakeholder groups?
  3. Build a bigger picture: This approach should only be seen as a snapshot in time. You can share the maps with stakeholders and work together to build a more informed picture of insights and challenges.  It can support identifying new partners leading to unlocking some of the barriers to your work.
  4. Use for measurement: Underlying challenges can help you coproduce meaningful outcomes with stakeholders.  Acknowledging the complexity of a ‘system’ and being more able to identify the things that need to change can help to define what changes will contribute to the aims of your work.