At the heart of support

A powerful reminder of how what might seem like a small gesture can significantly improve a person’s happiness and wellbeing. Mary was brought to tears when her support team introduced her to the home pet, after stating how important animals were to her in her one-page profile.

Mary's one-page profile

Mary’s one-page profile

Written by Lancashire County Commercial Group Care Services

Mary is 75 years old and has dementia.  She was living in a care home and we were asked to see if Mary could move to Beaconview. When we assessed Mary she was laying on her bed with the bed rails up. Mary is registered blind and has had some paranoid experiences. The staff from the home where we saw her said that ‘she liked to spend time in her bedroom’. Mary was very quiet and appeared to be quite isolated.

During our assessment, we asked Mary what her hobbies were and what her preferences were for a variety of things. We also asked her if she really did like to spend all her time in her bedroom, her answer to this was that she liked to spend some time alone. Mary also told us that she loved animals.  From this conversation we were able to create a one-page profile for Mary before she came to Beaconview.

Once Mary’s one-page profile was completed the care staff were able to read it and had an understanding of what her needs and preferences were, whilst also having a clear understanding of what was important to her.  Mary’s experience in moving to her new home was enhanced by the fact that staff were able to have conversations that were more pleasant and personal to her as a result.  Because of this all the staff at Beaconview were able to begin to build a trusting and meaningful relationship with Mary from the very moment she moved in.

We had recently bought a bunny for Beaconview and because the care staff knew from her one-page profile that Mary liked animals they decided to take the bunny to Mary so that she could enjoy its comforts.

Mary’s face lit up when she was informed that the bunny was here to see her, we asked her to put her hands out so that she could feel it. Mary was so pleased that we had ‘thought about her’ and the things she liked that she began to cry. Mary then cuddled the bunny and kept talking to him. Mary never did spend all day in her bedroom after that as she had something to focus her attention on. She felt a great sense of wellbeing each day.

Mary kept thanking the staff for what they did and although it seemed a small gesture on their part it really made a difference to her life.  The care staff were also extremely pleased that they were able to bring her so much happiness.

Having a one-page profile makes a massive difference to a person’s wellbeing, as it helps to build and form good relationships and it makes staff realise from a snap shot what is most important to a person.

The one-page profile is easy to read and easy to understand. This skill is very useful to all other professionals also.

Before we had one-page profiles it was difficult for all the staff to understand what was important to that particular person. The profiles ensure that not only is the person supported in a way that makes sense to them but that what matters to them is also included in their support.  The important bit is to act upon the individual preferences outlined in a one-page profile; truly keeping the person at the heart of all support.

Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.

By regaining your identity, you release your child to build theirs

Guest Blog by Rachel Mason, Parent carer

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason

Once upon a time, I had a live-in job at a Prep school as a boarding matron at the time. Looking after all those little ones, would get me dreaming of the day when I’d have my own.

On my nights off, my now hubby and I would  sit in the pub and picture picnics at the coast and football in the park.  We just knew we’d make brilliant parents

This was probably the last time I allowed myself to dream for many years to come.

We began our journey as an SEN family in 1989 when my eldest son Greg was diagnosed with Autism and learning disabilities at 27 months old and Shaun with Autism 2 years later. As time went on our dreams disappeared and  my life seemed to be shrinking in ever decreasing circles until I was living day to day in a reactionary survival mode. There were plenty of specialist services around our sons, delivering to their own assessed needs.

Year in, Year out we would read reports of their progress towards the ‘social norm’ but for our family it was always Groundhog Day.

We were passive passengers on this new journey that services had set our family on.

We had lost any control of our lives and  the will to dare dream of a different future than the one chosen for us.

In 2004, Norah Fry research centre and Helen Sanderson Associates (HSA) were doing a joint project piloting a 6 week  intro to person centred planning and were looking for families to participate. I joined a small group of 8 parents who were gathered gingerly in the back room of a local pub. We knew of each other in passing at parents’ evenings or school fetes but each you could see was on their own island. An isolation that had been caused by the process of service pathways, separating us from our mainstream peers, each other and our community.

When we were asked to introduce ourselves we were “Greg’s Mum, Sarah’s Mother..” we could talk for hours about them..

.. but  all of us were like rabbits in headlights when asked to talk about ourselves!

Think about it for a moment.. We had all spent year after year reliving our child’s experiences and  repeating our child’s life history for services. There wasn’t anything we didn’t know about our child. We had invested so much that it was as though we had taken on their identity!

This role left no time to be a wife, a daughter , a friend. There was no room in our preoccupied short term memory to store our own memories that we had had a life and aspirations for ourselves and our family before this.

We were taken on a personal journey that for some was quite emotional but most importantly for all, liberating.

As we talked over the weeks we realised  the way in which systems of support within services were set up, had gradually deskilled us and the ownership of  ‘any future’ we might get, now belonged to services

The aim of the course was to introduce us to some person centred planning tools and how we could use them to gain back some of that control and determine our own future  outcomes for our  family

In order to do this for our children, the facilitator wanted us to look at ourselves first. Enable us to see ourselves as individuals.  We were asked to write our own one-page profile. Believe me when I tell you – it was like pulling teeth!

It was as though we had all ‘archived’ that part of us in order not to get distracted from our advocacy role by our own hopes and dreams and also, if I’m honest, to protect ourselves from continuous disappointment when our personal goals  were constantly sacrificed.

We were all so exhausted by the system  that we had forgotten the many skills and assets we had and it was very rewarding to recall and record them.

We all left this project changed people.

For some it was an awakening to a lost identity inside themselves but most importantly it helped us all to separate ourselves from our child, enabling us to step back and allowing them to build their own.

Having a one-page profile for myself helped me to find a healthier caring/ life balance. It gave me back perspective, this in turn gave me renewed strength and purpose to work towards my own goals as well as those of my sons

Up until now I had not even thought there was a future for my son. Now I realised that not having a plan for him and constantly reliving his past whilst working with services, meant he was unable to move on as I (his identity) was risk averse and stuck in the past.

Whereas before I could not see the wood for the trees, with clear positive statements within our one-page profiles, I would see solutions instead of problems. I now saw services around my son as ‘tools and resources’ to achieve his aspirations. The one-page profile was the guide that his supporters could use along with his 247grid which I used to map his progress and where he still needed extra support. At last we felt more in control as a family.

My son’s one-page profile also supported me to have a better conversation with schools who began to see me as a partner.  We were at last  ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’ (page 37)

I truly believe being introduced to one-page profiles changed my life and the continuing life journey we took as a family to achieve what we have to day.

Bridging the gap between home and school

An excellent example of how one-page profiles in schools can help pupils and teachers adjust to a new term, build confidence, enhance understanding and communicate additional support needs. Jacob had struggled to make progress with his writing and to engage in certain lessons. His one-page profile has helped him turn this around, with his writing improving significantly and a better consistency in support between home and school.

Jacob's one-page profile

Jacob’s one-page profile

Written by Jacob’s mum Marianne 

My son Jacob is nine years old. He lives at home with me, his dad and his two younger brothers. Jacob loves playing computer games and watching films.

Jacob doesn’t get any formal additional support at school but has been struggling for a couple of years to make progress with his writing. He enjoys being in class but can find it difficult to concentrate when the subject matter doesn’t grab his attention.

Jacob’s youngest brother has had a one-page profile for quite a while and so during the summer holidays before starting Year 5, Jacob and I decided we would develop one for him too. We hoped it would help his new teacher get to know him quickly.

We asked Jacob’s teachers who already knew him well to tell us what they had learnt about him over the last year. We asked them to focus in particular on the things they liked about him as well as the support he needs to get the most out of learning.

We also asked the rest of our family what they love about him. Jacob spent time thinking about the things he most enjoyed about being at school – the things that meant he had a great day there.

Jacob loves playing on his dad’s ipad and decided he wanted to use an app called pic collage to develop what his profile looked like. This meant he could design it as he wanted to.

Jacob took his one-page profile back to school with him after the summer holidays and gave it to his new teacher. A copy was also given to his Kumon teacher which he started at the same time.

The profile is kept on our fridge at home so everyone can see it. His dad and I use the ‘important for’ section in particular when helping him with his homework.

The plan is to update it properly, once a year. As the summer term comes to an end, we will ask his Year 5 teachers to share their learning about how best to support Jacob at school in preparation for helping year 6 get off to the best start.

Jacob is already working out how his next profile will look – he’s decided that the wrestling and superheroes photos will most likely be replaced with Skylanders!

Jacob really enjoyed creating his own profile. He said that he liked having a photo that wasn’t of him wearing his school uniform and he liked being able to find photos of the things he likes to put on it.

When his profile was given to his Kumon teacher, she said it was one of the most useful things she had seen in terms of understanding Jacobs learning support needs straight away.

His school teacher was new to the whole school not just Jacob, so his profile helped her quickly get a feel for what mattered to Jacob, how to get him and keep him interested in learning.

We absolutely loved hearing from his year 4 teachers what they liked about him as did Jacob! It was so good to hear the genuine affection and regard they had for him and to hear how different he is at school from at home. We also found the information about how to support him at school really helpful and detailed. We hadn’t been given this information previously and it made a real difference to how we now support Jacob at home with school work.

Jacob has made much progress in his first two terms of year 5. The school has a better understanding of how to engage in what he is learning and his concentration has therefore improved. He has made more progress in his writing this year than he has in the previous three years and there is more consistency between home and school in how we all support him. I’m looking forward to repeating the process each year and seeing how Jacob and his one-page profiles evolve.

You can find more examples of using one-page profiles and other person-centred thinking tools in a school setting from this website www.personalisingeducation.org

Big life changes from good conversations

An excellent example of how a one-page profile can build confidence and self esteem; getting people to think about what is important in their life and the contribution they make to others. Ken’s story is a powerful reminder of how person-centred thinking can lead to big life changes.

Ken's one-page profile

Ken’s one-page profile

Written by Ruth Hamm

Ken is a 71 year old man who has struggled with addictions in the past. Ken had lived in shelters or “couch surfed” for the past four years before he entered the Housing First program. I am his Case Manager.

Ken has two children and three grandchildren that have been present in his life throughout his homeless years, however the connection has not always been healthy or productive whilst he was frequently moving around.

Early on in working to support Ken in attaining and maintaining housing I noticed that he seemed to have a very negative view of himself and any contribution he brought to his family or this world. He felt that others should just live their lives as they wished and not concern or burden themselves with things that may matter to him. He brushed off the question “what is important to you?” saying that he was easy going and “it just didn’t matter”.

I was curious and wanted to get to know Ken better and help him see the kind, giving and gentle man that I saw when I spent time with him.

Ken and I worked through his one-page profile together over a few visits. We started by one day working on the positive/negative reputation exercise. In the time I had spent with Ken he had frequently stated his faults, however he shied away from speaking about things that he was good at. I had him list things that he felt people might say were negative about him. After he had listed several “negative reputation” characteristics, we went to work at looking at how each characteristic had a very positive attribute. I also added the things that I like and admire about Ken from the time we had spent together.

Over the course of a few more discussions I was able to draw things out in conversation that Ken would speak about more than once. I was then able to ask him if he found that particular thing important to him. He was surprised to discover that there were things that really mattered to him and were important to him.

When the one-page profile was completed, I presented it to Ken and asked him if he felt it accurately represented him. He was shy upon reading the “like & admire” section, however he said that it was all accurate and seemed to be proud of it.  Ken posted the one-page profile on his fridge, and during a later visit to his home, he stated that his daughter had read it and thought it was a great idea.

The one-page profile showed Ken that he truly was worthy and valuable to his family. Since having been supported in finding housing and working through several person-centered tools, Ken has reconnected with a few of his family members and he has been able to set some healthy boundaries where needed.  Ken is able to have his daughter over to his new home for coffee several times a week and he states that he is treasuring this renewed relationship with her.

Since his housing, and learning about what is “important to” him, Ken has opened himself up to various other opportunities such as taking a community course to learn how to use a computer, the internet and email. Ken also speaks of going out for coffee to the Legion to meet with “other old guys” as he calls them.

From my perspective, Ken has displayed a more positive outlook on life as well as a healthier self-esteem and self-image. He is much more willing to step out and try new things and meet new people. The amount of time he spends alone in his home is reduced and he enjoys having people around him.

Ken’s one-page profile was very beneficial in bringing Ken out of his shell and showing him how valuable he is to his children and grandchildren. Ken certainly has become a bit more outgoing and engages with those around him willingly and in a positive and healthy manner.

Triggering happy memories

A powerful example of how a one-page profile can draw out the important information needed to support someone with dementia to re-connect with their past and feel happy and safe in their surroundings.

TobyWritten by Tracey & Rose from Merry Hill House

Eighty-seven year old Toby was born and bred in Wolverhampton. Described as a real gentleman, Toby’s wife sadly passed away five years ago. His son Sean is his main carer as Toby is now in the advanced stages of dementia. Sean says Toby was a hands-on husband and father and his family was always his priority. Toby has an infectious smile and personality to match, he has always had strong work ethics and Sean can’t remember his dad ever having a day off. He recalls fondly that Toby would often say; “the harder you work and save for something, the more you’ll appreciate it.”  Throughout his life Toby has liked things to be ‘in place’ and would always look immaculate.

Toby came every six weeks for a three night respite stay here at Merry Hill House. During his stays he would go around the unit collecting other people’s shoes and lining them up in his room. He’d also be fascinated with the electrical sockets and get quite agitated when staff tried to move him away for his safety.

A staff member sat with Toby and his son to discuss one-page profiles and how through discussions we could find a solution to help Toby feel happier, safer and more independent in his environment. Toby was present but unable to contribute a great deal verbally due to his dementia which meant that his son Sean was the one that provided the rich insight into Toby’s life.  It became clear very quickly that Toby led a full and active life, working and spending quality time with family. For many years he was an electrician and in his spare time he would take his son to a unit he owned where they built a barge together.

As a group, staff were asked to think about how we could use the information gleaned from his one-page profile to reduce the risk and to increase Toby’s wellbeing, giving him back the feeling of control in his day to day life.  We wanted to help Toby re-connect with his past and for him to feel busy as this is what he was used to. Together the team and Sean made a list of some of the items that would help Toby. Sean was to pack extra pairs of shoes when Toby came to stay and we were to provide shoe polish and a blacking brush so that he could polish shoes just like he did for his family as a child on a Sunday afternoon. We also filled a box with electrical items like plugs, light switches and a flex. Whenever Toby started touching the sockets or gathering shoes we were able to lead him to his boxes and he was happy again.

We have noticed a great difference in Toby’s wellbeing as has Sean who now uses the boxes at home too. Toby will spend many an hour polishing shoes until they are pristine, he will also sit with a small screw driver taking the plugs apart and connecting flex to them. We learnt this important information from Toby’s one-page profile and we are now able to support him to do the things that trigger his happiest memories; a wonderful outcome from having a good conversation and recording the important information on just one page.

Using profiles professionally with colleagues and families

An example of how one-page profiles can assist people professionally. Chris talks about how his profile has improved communication and understanding with colleagues, managers and the families he works with.

Chris' one-page profile

Chris’ one-page profile

Written by Chris

I am a Facilitator with MacIntyre’s Family Footings programme.  I support families to learn new ways to make their voices heard and exercise greater choice and control over the care and support they receive. I use my one-page profile as a way of introducing myself to new people.

I originally created my one-page profile when I was applying for my job. I was asked to bring one along with me to interview. By writing it, I felt like I could give my interviewers an idea of who I really am – not just the qualities I have that I would normally talk about on an application form, but information about my other interests and a bit about challenges in my life too. I wrote the text for the profile myself and showed it to my wife and my parents afterwards, asking for their feedback. Since then I have made a lot of little changes to my profile to keep it relevant. For instance, I have amended the bit about my running as my weekly training mileage has increased. I added the bit about supporting individual families when brokerage started to become a bigger part of my role at work.

I use my one-page profile a lot at work. I often bring copies with me to workshops I lead for parents and professionals in order to introduce the tool to them in a way that will support them to use it reflectively before immediately applying it to children they support. I give copies of it to families that I work with on an individual basis to help them see a less formal side of me straight away. I have also written another, less personal version of my profile that I can use to introduce myself in circumstances where I need to showcase my professional skills and attributes, as I realise that my personal one-page profile isn’t appropriate for every situation.

Parents and carers with whom I share my one-page profile frequently tell me how refreshing it is to have a more holistic look at who someone coming to their house to support them actually is. It’s a good way for me to introduce the tool to them too because reading my profile often causes them to get excited about the potential benefits it could have for members of their own family. When I have had chance meetings with people who have attended my workshops in the past and have seen my one-page profile, I am often surprised when they ask about my running or songwriting. Because we have shared things with each other about what is important to us, we have a better starting place for forming relationships that are based on mutual respect and understanding.

My one-page profile has also allowed me to have better relationships with my colleagues and manager. Because we all created and shared our profiles when we started in post, we all started our work with an appreciation of each other’s strengths and information about how best to work together. For instance, my co-workers know from my one-page profile that I prefer to receive information electronically, and I know that some of them prefer to receive information on paper or in conversation. We have also taken time during team meetings to revisit the ‘Like and Admire’ sections of our profiles and add things to each other’s. This has helped build our working relationships with each other and has helped me to gain extra confidence in certain areas of my practice because of how my colleagues see me.

Revolutionising the way we teach

One-page profiles are used with every pupil in this school so that teachers can personalise the education and support that they give. Capturing the individual information about each child in this way has changed the way they teach and share information. This is Sion’s story.

Sion's one-page profile

Sion’s one-page profile

Written by Teacher, Carys Bird

Sion is 14 years old, born one of twins, he is on the autistic spectrum and has no verbal language but makes his needs known by making noises and reaching for items. Sion has severe learning disabilities, and attends a Special Needs School.

As a school we took the approach that each pupil would have a one-page profile and a person-centred review.  Sion’s profile was developed as part of that piece of work.  We wanted to take a person-centred approach to education to ensure that we supported each pupil as an individual and to make sure that others had positive and useful information about each child as they came into school as visitors or professionals.

Sion’s one-page profile was developed by classroom staff, as well as others who know him well.  It has been added to and changed over the years as Sion has grown and developed.  We use the person-centred review process annually and this gives us the opportunity to formally update Sion’s profile with his parents and other professionals who support him.

Sion’s one-page profile can be accessed quickly from a file in the classroom enabling people to identify Sion, and to be immediately aware of how best to support him, as well as giving them a positive description and information which helps them to engage with Sion.  As he enters ‘transition’ it will be used to inform the development of his Transition Plan.

Using one-page profiles throughout our school has made understanding the needs of pupils at each level much easier.  For Sion, it has taken the guesswork out of getting to know and understand him, especially for new staff coming into school, and professionals who are starting to work with him through transition, such as his careers adviser.

Other people knowing how to interact and engage with Sion has led to him feeling more comfortable with staff and has reduced his anxieties when around new people. This has resulted in him having more positive connections with others and he will now sit alongside his fellow pupils in class of his own accord.

As all staff understand the importance of consistency in supporting Sion, he is now able to have more social opportunities out and about as part of his school day.  Staff no longer have to delve into huge files to find the information, which is not clear and concise, in order to support Sion well . His one-page profile holds all the vital information and positively presents Sion, making it easier for people to support him in what he wants to do and build a relationship with him based on a deeper understanding.

To learn more about personalising education visit www.personalisingeducation.org

Chief Exec advocates one-page profiles

An example of why this Chief Executive advocates the use of one-page profiles throughout his entire staff team and the people they support. Brian Hutchinson has had personal successes with his profile too, believing that sharing it aids better understanding, first impressions and relationships. 

Brian Hutchinson's one-page profile

Brian Hutchinson’s one-page profile

Written By Brian Hutchinson, Chief Executive of Real Life Options

I’ve worked in community based learning disability services for 20 years; primarily with people who have a diagnosis of autism, or with people who have a formal or informal forensic history and I’ve been working for Real Life Options for 11 years now.

From my perspective as Chief Executive the purpose of introducing one-page profiles into the organisation was twofold. Firstly it was a way for the people we support to communicate what they are about and what is important to them. This works well between the person and support workers but also in the wider community. Secondly, and from an internal perspective, when used with staff it helps embed our person-centered ethos into the culture from the get go. It’s one of the first things that new members of staff do when they come to work for Real Life Options.

I was among the first to produce my one-page profile and it is displayed on the wall at each of our office buildings. I send it out prior to meetings with new people. We take part in a lot of cooperative work with similar organisations to share best practice, it really helps to break the ice in a situation where lots of new faces gather together to discuss issues that can be challenging.  I thought it was important to be very honest when producing my own one-page profile as personally I feel it’s worthless if it doesn’t reflect who you are as a person and how you work.

I believe that using one-page profiles throughout Real Life Options has helped people we support and members of staff to really understand the core of person-centered values. When you begin by examining yourself and your own traits, needs and values it’s then much easier to transfer this way of thinking into the work that you do. On a personal note it has helped me to avoid misunderstandings that might cause tension. For example, my profile tells people that my leg shakes during meetings when I’m interested, it has in the past been misconstrued as irritation or unease. It’s good to get these things out there and avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings.

Having a one-page profile has definitely made a difference to my initial encounters with new people. It’s a great way to begin a new relationship and reflects the honest, open and genuine way in which we operate at Real Life Options.

Teamwork – staying true to what we’ve stated as important

An excellent example of how a team one-page profile can help people work collaboratively.  There are five core people supporting Jennie day-to-day; by having one profile they can easily represent themselves and what is important, to new and existing people in Jennie’s life and in particular to her Circle of Support.

Jennie's Team one-page profile

Jennie’s Team one-page profile

Written by Zoe Robinson

We work as a team for Independent Options to support Jennie to be safe and well whilst trying out new things, have positive life experiences and to personally develop. Jennie is a bright independent young woman with learning disabilities and autism.

Jennie moved into her flat three years ago which is why it is so important that we as a team are matched well with her and each other as we work in her home. Having produced our own one-page profiles and supported Jennie to produce hers, we decided it was important to have a team profile too. There are five of us that work closely as Jennie’s core team. We needed to document and record what was important to us and for us because these are the things that we had come to learn were important to Jennie’s happiness and safety too. By having a team profile we hoped it would help us work better together, appreciate each other’s contributions and individual personalities. We also wanted a way of communicating what we were striving for collectively – to represent our outlook so that as the team evolved we could be consistent in our support of Jennie.

We each wrote our own one-page profiles, asking each other what we like and admire about each of us and recording what was important to and for us as individuals. We then used this information to create a team one-page profile. Not only did this process help us get to know each other better but we were also able to share it with other services within Independent Options and with Jennie’s Circle of Support to improve their understanding about who we are and what we stand for. For Jennie, it gave her one sheet of paper with the photographs and statements of the people who support her; something which she is very proud of.

The most rewarding part of producing a team one-page profile has been the way it has helped us to work together. On it we have stated the things that are important, such as always listening to each other, respecting each other and being consistent in the way we support Jennie. Having this recorded keeps us on track and focused in our roles. We have also communicated how other people from outside the team can support us by providing good supervision and clear communication, again making it easier for people outside of the team to work with us collaboratively.

When new people join the team they produce their own one-page profile and are added to the teams. This helps reduce all the awkward questions that people can be faced with when first working together.  It means that we don’t have to try to work each other out as we have all the important information on one sheet of paper. Just like the team profile, our individual profiles change and develop with us and with Jennie. Revisiting them is an excellent way of reviewing what is working and what isn’t. Are we respecting what we have each stated as important? Are we supporting each other to do the best job we can do? And crucially – are we being true to our purpose and keeping Jennie at the heart of everything we do? This is a question we as a team ask ourselves regularly, it is what makes us strong and our profile empowers us to make it happen.

Jennie’s mum Suzie has been sharing blogs this week about Jennie’s Circle of Support and its role in her journey to independent living. You can read more about this here.