KeyRing is an adult social care provider based across England that helps people to live well in their community. Although staff were confident that their approach was working well for people already, they sometimes struggled to measure their impact. Making It Real provided a valuable framework for gathering wide-ranging feedback from the people they support – but also helped them discover ways to get even better. Here’s how.

“We’ve always known that our approach to support brings great results for people,” says Karyn Kirkpatrick, CEO at KeyRing. “That said, we have struggled to measure and communicate the impact of what we do and explain how we do it. Statements like ‘it’s just who we are’ and ‘it’s part of our DNA’ didn’t really cut it. So when we came across Making It Real, we were keen to think about ways to use the framework to better explore the difference we were making in people’s lives.”

It starts with conversation

KeyRing took a conversation-first approach to using Making It Real. But, instead of rushing into using it across the whole organisation, they started with a small group of staff representing all roles in KeyRing and role-played how conversations around the ‘We’ statements might go. “There are a lot of statements, and we soon realised that we needed to be creative and adaptive in how we used Making It Real. It wasn’t something that could easily be rolled out to all staff or made into a checklist,” adds Karyn.

The framework resonated with the staff immediately. “It spoke our language,” asserts Karyn. “It didn’t have airs and graces, and it really put people at the centre of knowing whether support is right for them.” After agreeing it was something worth exploring, the initial group of staff took Making It Real out to their individual teams, with the aim of doing a ‘deep dive’ into different ‘I’ and ‘We’ statements.

An easy-to-use, step-by-step workshop plan was created to help anyone at KeyRing to facilitate a workshop; and these began to happen across the organisation. The people who KeyRing support are called Members, and the workshops took place at Member Network meetings, hubs, staff and volunteer meetings.

From insight to action

In the meetings, Members and staff discussed the question ‘how are we doing?’ in relation to different ‘I’ and ‘We’ statements. The workshop plan was simple and clear. Firstly, people were invited to use emojis to share how they felt that KeyRing was performing against the different statements. Following this, they were asked to focus on ‘what next?’ by discussing ways that they could potentially improve their emoji score. As a result, although the original aim of the process was to better understand their impact, the teams also found that the discussions that came up were leading to valuable insights and ideas for making things better, too.

For example, the statement ‘We work in partnership with others to make our local area welcoming, supportive and inclusive for everyone’ started a discussion around whether KeyRing could make their local hubs open to the general public. As a result, a number of KeyRing hubs chose to do this, and are now able to give more people a taster of their support and become an even more valued member of their communities. Separately, a discussion around ‘We review people’s personalised care and support plans with them regularly, focusing on whether they are doing the things they identified as important to them’ led to the idea of giving Members access to their own care and support plans directly, and a new system is currently being rolled out so they will be able to do this.

Co-producing change

Using Making It Real has led to tangible change for KeyRing and their Members. They have been able to share a range of ‘you said, we did’ updates as a result of their work; and found that conversations centered around the Making It Real framework have translated well into plans and actions. And crucially, these changes all came directly from conversations with people who draw on KeyRing’s care and support – providing a clear way for them to evidence co-production.

A key recommendation from KeyRing is to come to meetings with an open mind, letting conversation develop naturally. “What’s really interesting is the range of discussions that were prompted through the ‘I’ and ‘We’ statements,” says Karyn. “Many of the outcomes don’t seem to directly correlate with the ‘We’ statement that was originally being discussed, but they are still leading to change. So our tip is to be prepared to let people go off topic – that’s where you’ll really find the benefits.”

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