Using emotional touchpoints can help us to learn about the experiences of residents/clients/people who use services, relatives and staff. We can learn about those things that worked well for them and those that caused concern. The touchpoints help the storyteller to share their experience in a structured way. The information gleaned from the story can be used to identify small improvements that can have a huge impact on how we are with each other.

The How

A touchpoint is a point in a person’s experience such as ’mealtimes’,’ involvement in decisions’, ‘working as part of a team’. There are also blank cards for the person you are speaking with to create their own touchpoint if there is an experience they would like to talk about that isn’t already included. Also included in the pack are cards with ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ emotion words written on them. These words ‘pleased’, ‘ moved’, ‘angry’ are used to help the storyteller to share their story through the lens of the emotions they experienced. Again there are blank cards should the person identify a different feeling that they would like to include.

Inviting the storyteller to take part

Invite the story-teller i.e. resident, client, person who use services, relative, staff member to take part in sharing their experience by explaining the process and providing verbal and written information if appropriate. If they are happy to take part you may also want to ask them if they are comfortable with you sharing their experience/story with the wider team/organisation. For those doing emotional touchpoints as part of a research study it may be necessary to obtain written consent.

Hearing the story using touchpoints

Find a quiet area if you can in your area. Have the pack ready and paper and pen to jot down notes from the session.

Present the range of touchpoints to the storyteller. Ask them to select the ones that they would like to talk about. If they have a point in their experience they would like to discuss and this is not presented in the touchpoints, write this on one of the blank cards. (You may need to guide them on the number of touchpoints selected. On average for a 20 minute discussion you may be able to discuss 3 or 4 touchpoints).

Taking each touchpoint one at a time and ask the storyteller to select the emotion words that sum up the experience for them. It is helpful to invite the story teller to physically lay the words they have chosen on to the touchpoint. So as in the example above, if the person has selected the touchpoint, expressing my views, they may select the words – anxious, ‘stuck’, ‘heard’ and valued to describe how this felt.

Ask the storyteller to share why they felt that way. Listen intently to try to understand their experience.

Try not to feel you have to defend the situation, offer explanations as to why something has happened or try to provide a list of solutions. Just being able to be heard can be a solution in itself

Try not to take negative emotions personally. It is a reflection on what has happened and how the storyteller feels, potentially opening up possibilities for an enhanced experience in the future.

When the storyteller shares on the positive emotion try to ask what helped them to feel that way.

When a negative point is raised try to ask the person what they would think may help to improve the experience or ask them if they can recount a time when things did work well. You may also ask them how they would like to feel and pick an emotion that sums this up.

After you have worked through all of the touchpoints in turn and in a similar way, thank the person for taking part.

After the emotional touchpoint conversation

Type up the notes from the story as soon after the interview as possible. It is helpful to write the story as if the storyteller has written this e.g. I felt frustrated and surprised at visiting time. I felt frustrated because there was very rarely somebody around to talk to………

Give the story back to the story teller and ask them if the account is accurate and if they would like to make any changes or additions.

Check consent (if necessary in the context). Ask again if they are happy for their story to be shared with staff and others in the organisation.

Where and When

Emotional touchpoints can be pre-planned or can be a resource which can be drawn on in the moment if both people feel it would be helpful to the conversation. Examples of where people have found it helpful to use this include:

  • Staff supervision
  • When resident moves in to care home/ person is new to care service
  • Conversation with relative where there has been a concern expressed

But it can be anytime – the important thing is that you are interested in hearing another persons story about their experience.

Resources to download

Using Emotional Touchpoints

Positive Words

Negative Words

Examples of Touchpoints

Example of a Touchpoint Story