Holly’s Story

Holly 1PP_Page_1Holly was born with a chromosome abnormality which was diagnosed following genetic analysis at the age of fifteen months when she was failing to meet the usual childhood milestones. How this affects her is that she has global developmental delays in all aspects of physical, emotional, social and intellectual skills, so although she is eleven right now, developmentally she has more in common with other children of about four or five.

Holly and her parents moved to a new area the year before she was due to start secondary school, a time during which they were beginning to realise as a family that she was going to benefit from going to a “special” school, as she was simply too vulnerable for mainstream secondary education. Her parents had done a great deal of research before they moved, checking out the local schools and visiting them to talk about Holly and her particular needs, and had settled on one school whose head teacher felt sure she could provide a safe, fun environment in which Holly would thrive.

However, as time progressed and choice of schools began to be the hot topic of conversation amongst parents and teachers alike, Holly’s’ parents felt that every time they mentioned  their preferred secondary school they were met by lots of sucking in of breath through teeth and comments like ‘it’s a very sought after school you know’, as if the prospect of Holly being offered a place there was highly unlikely. After visiting all three specialist schools in the area, two of which were twenty miles away from the family home, they concluded, as did the head teacher of Holly’s primary school and the Senco of the chosen Senior school, that this choice would indeed best meet Holly’s needs.

The family prepared a one-page profile in time for Holly’s transfer review. The unit manager at Holly’s primary school was so impressed with the document that after the meeting she was in touch with the local authority to find out more about one page profiles and person-centred planning and reviews, and booked herself on a two day course. She was subsequently granted permission to pilot both one-page profiles and person-centred reviews within the specialist provision unit at Holly’s primary school, with a view to potentially rolling the person centred approach out for all pupils, not just in the special support unit, but across the whole school.

Holly’s application to the special senior school was initially unsuccessful, and she was offered a place in the local mainstream comprehensive. Both the SENCO and the head teacher of the mainstream school agreed that they could not meet Holly’s needs, and after a person centred appeal, was put forward, focussed around the detail of her one-page profile, the decision was overturned within two weeks and a costly and stressful tribunal was avoided. Holly started at her new school in September (2013), and is thoroughly enjoying her new environment supported by teachers who feel they knew her far better from day one because of the information contained in her profile.

Who decides a child’s potential? 4 benefits to using one-page profiles in School

Cathy Higgins

Cathy Higgins

Written by guest blogger Cathy Higgins, Head teacher at Oxley Park Academy

I’ve always found it strange when people talk about a child reaching their full potential. What is their full potential and who exactly decided it? It strikes me that by identifying this invisible finishing line and then pushing a child right up to it and nothing more, we are seriously underestimating what is possible.

I’ve worked in education for 30 years and have been Head Teacher three times. In 2005 I was appointed to Oxley Park Academy before it had even been built and was fortunate enough to take Headship at a time when I could influence its shape from the bottom up; quite literally – I was on site with a hard hat helping design something wonderful for our community!

When we opened in October that year, we had 100 pupils. We now have 550 and a waiting list but our size isn’t the only thing that has changed. In July 2011 we converted to academy status. We are still a state school but rather than taking direction from our local authority, we are funded centrally which means we have the freedom to develop the curriculum and to allocate money to the areas that we know supports our pupils, staff and community best.  In short, it has allowed us to be more person-centred and using one-page profiles with all 550 of our pupils is one of the ways that we do this.

In September 2011 we employed two people to drive forward our approach to personalisation. We don’t have Special Educational Needs teachers here at the school because we see every child as having individual requirements and we firmly believe that by adopting person-centred practices within our school’s culture, we can support and teach each child well.

One-page profiles celebrate the individual gifts and talents of our pupils. They also capture the essential information about what is important to and for each child and it is this that enables us to support and encourage them far beyond any pre-determined potential.  The profiles are stored in each classroom and electronically. They are added to continuously and redeveloped in full as pupils move to the next year group. Being able to dedicate time and resource into embedding these types of person-centred thinking practices into our school’s culture has been one of the most powerful outcomes of our academy status. The benefits for our pupils, teachers, parents and community (after all – each and every empowered child will be taking these values with them for the rest of their life) as a whole are magnificent.

Here are the four main benefits we have experienced by using one-page profiles:

1)      Better Understanding: To be truly person-centred we have to treat every child as unique, special and with unquantifiable potential. One-page profiles encourage pupils to think about what is important to them and empowers them to tell us how we can support them best.  The ‘what people like and admire about me’ section is exclusive to each child and encourages us (parents, teachers and classmates) to celebrate their individual skills and gifts.

2)      Better relationships: Children can often act differently at home and at school and by bringing parents and teachers together through a child’s one-page profile we can improve our understanding of them and support them better. The pupils themselves have learnt to celebrate their individuality and support each other, forming better and more positive working relationships with their peers and teachers.

3)      Good education: We believe every child has the right to a good education. A one-page profile highlights how we can support a child to learn well. It might lead us to use special equipment to aid with maths or communication or it might be as simple as encouraging them to ask questions or ensuring they have somewhere quiet to sit and concentrate. Whatever the profile identifies we are able to respond.

4)      Reflection: Both pupils and teachers have reflection time at Oxley Park Academy. We see this as vital for learning and progression as well as good mental health and wellbeing.  The profiles helped us to identify the need for this time (highlighted as something that is important) but they are also a tool that we reflect upon.

 

5 top tips to use one-page profiles in schools

Tabitha SmithWritten by guest blogger Tabitha Smith, then SENCO and Deputy Head at Norris Bank Primary School, Stockport

I’ve worked in education for over 20 years and 18 of these have been in Stockport. It was whilst teaching at Norris Bank Primary school in 2008 that I was first introduced to one-page profiles. Helen Sanderson is the mother of one of our old pupils and she came into school to talk to us about Laura’s progress. She introduced us to a single sheet of paper which communicated perfectly what people liked and admired about Laura, what was important to her and how best we could support her. This was the beginning of something huge; our personalisation journey.

We immediately saw the value of the one-page profile as a means to improve communication, learn about the individual requirements of each child, celebrate their gifts and talents and therefore teach and support them well.

At first we introduced the profiles to years two and six. We wanted to use them to help pupils in the transition from infant to juniors and from primary up to secondary. We had decided early on that this was not a tool to be used just with the children that had been identified as having ‘special educational needs’ as our belief is that all children have special or individual requirements and that each of them would benefit from using a one-page profile.

The children were incredibly excited about and receptive to creating their profiles. It wasn’t the first time we had asked them to tell us what they needed to work well but it was the first time we had introduced such a positive way of capturing this information, of embedding this culture deep into the roots of our school. We soon realised that we needed to give every child the opportunity to create their own profile and so we made this commitment.

I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy. It wasn’t. We have 340 pupils at Norris Bank and the coordination of communication between pupils, parents and teachers as well as the administration that was required, was enough to cause even the most committed of professionals a few sleepless nights! But we did it. In 2009 we achieved our aim or arming each child with their own one-page profile and setting a system in place that means that each year they re-work their profiles in time for their move to the next class.

We now know what each child needs to be supported well. This could be something as simple as how they like to be encouraged, what type of classroom environment they thrive in or whether there is any equipment the child needs to aid their communication or learning. Our parents are able to share with us the things that they love and admire about their child and we can celebrate this together – bridging the gap between home and school life. We have a point of reference for every parent’s evening and a detailed introduction to new teachers of each and every pupil. And crucially, our pupils feel valued and empowered to tell us what is important to and for them.

This year I accepted a Headship at a new school and I will be taking my learning of one-page profiles and the power of personalisation in education with me but I wanted to share with you five top tips to successfully introduce profiles in your school. I said before that it wasn’t easy – but as we have been through the process, we have learnt what works and what doesn’t work and now have a system that is absolutely achievable for schools – and believe me, the results are well worth the effort!

Using one-page profiles in a school setting:

  1. Understand their worth: It is important that the people making it happen (the teachers, pupils, parents and admin staff) understand how a one-page profile can benefit a child in school, how it can aid their learning, improve communication, highlight the need for new measures of support and celebrate their gifts and talents. We did this through training sessions, but also having resources like this blog site is a great way to share the ‘power of the one-page profile’!
  2. Give yourself time:  It takes time to achieve a task of this scale and giving yourself an unrealistic time frame will only de-motivate you. Think first about the practicalities of training people about one-page profiles, producing them, involving parents, capturing and storing the information then base your time scale on this.
  3. Keep it simple: We learnt early on that trying to type up each and every one-page profile and store them electronically wasn’t for us! We now send post cards out to parents at the end of each school year and they add the section about what they like and admire about their child. The children then return the cards to the class room and work through the sections ‘what is important to them and how best to support and encourage them in school’. Pupils personalise their postcard profiles with colours and drawings which further capture their personalities. The cards are then kept in a plastic flip wallet by the teacher and can be taken out and looked at or added to at any time.
  4. Involve parents: The benefits of a child having a one-page profile far transcends school and involving parents in the process early by getting them to add to the profiles is a good way of introducing them to the tool. We had an army of volunteers helping us when we first rolled out the project and although now we have streamlined it, we don’t need this administrative support, we still involve parents and are able to capture their rich insight into their child.
  5. Walk the walk: Capturing information isn’t enough. It is how you use it that will make your introduction of one-page profiles in school a success. We adapt our teaching style to our pupils based in what they have told us. We make decisions about their support based on what we know about them. We share this information with parents and with their new secondary school because we believe it is of vital importance. We see each or our pupils as individuals and whilst they may all be taught the same curriculum, we do it in the way that best suits them.

4 tips to support people with dementia using a one-page profile

Written by Sally Percival

Sally Percival

Sally Percival

My mum has always been very independent. A few years ago she took a fall at home whilst moving a piece of furniture and broke her leg. It wasn’t diagnosed for a year and in that time she had countless Xrays and hospital visits as her circulation started to fail and her mobility suffered more and more. By the time the doctors picked up the break she was almost unable to walk and the hospital insisted that she was discharged to a care home where she could receive additional support.  By this time it wasn’t just her physical health that was deteriorating but she was acting differently too. I know now that these were the early stages of dementia but at the time it just seemed that mum was becoming a bit more forgetful and seemed less bothered about what she said and who could hear her! She would comment loudly about what people were wearing and how they looked – well within earshot and apparently without concern that they might be offended. I knew something was very wrong when one day I visited to find her complaining about not being able to get the mobile phone to work only to realise later that it was the TV remote control she was trying to speak into. It was obvious then that she needed more support but being discharged to a care home did not sit well with either of us.

In fact, mum hated it and I hated seeing her there. I know that there are some very good care homes but this was certainly not one of them. The staff seemed totally disinterested in her needs or in treating her with dignity and respect – they would leave her alone in bed for hours at a time and had taken to hiding her emergency buzzer so she couldn’t call them; “she is a very naughty girl” they told me “always buzzing for no reason”. I’d regularly visit to find they had put her to bed for the night at 4pm in the afternoon and they seemed to do the same with the other people living there too – out of sight out of mind.

I know about and have successfully used one-page profiles with my son for years. He has a diagnosis of autism and using his profiles has helped immensely (in particular in school and to aid his transition) to direct his own support and ensure that people recognise and appreciate his special talents and gifts rather than focusing on his condition. When I introduced the staff team at mum’s care home to her one-page profile they were totally disinterested. I explained that it detailed what was important to her and how best they could support her in an easy to read way – perfect when there are lots of people involved in care. Instead of embracing the tool and using it to support mum well, they would hide it away in her draw and continue along the routines that suited them.  In truth I think they thought I was a bit of a hippy and didn’t consider how using a one-page profile could benefit them or my mum. Every visit I would take it out of the draw in mum’s room and display it prominently and every time I left they would put it away again.

It came to a head when I arrived one afternoon to find her alone in bed and choking on her own vomit. She was on her back and couldn’t adjust herself to clear her airways. The emergency buzzer was nowhere to be seen; hidden away from my mum so they didn’t have to respond to her needs. It was terrifying . When I finally was able to stop my mum from choking and settle her down I went to find help. It took me 20 minutes to get someone to assist me. I have never been so enraged in my entire life.  I called the social worker and told her I wanted to move her immediately and arrange for a personal care plan and budget for my mum. The social worker told me that individual budgets are not for older people so I made a complaint and got a new social worker. It wasn’t easy but we fought for my mum until we got her the support she so desperately needed.

Mum is now back at home. She pays for her own personal assistants and care agency with her individual budget and is back in the driving seat where she belongs. She had lost 5 stone in the care home but after being home for just a few months she put the weight back on and her health and happiness improved dramatically.

Mum’s one-page profile is now used by her staff team and we update it whenever we need to communicate something new. It even helped us to  employ the right people because  we had already identified the things that were most important to my mum and how best to support her which meant we could match the right people to the role.

There are many reasons that the care home was not suitable for my mum but I believe that how they reacted to her one-page profile was a clear indication that they had little interest in treating her as an individual, celebrating who she was and supporting her to do the things that were important to her. My mum is happy and well again and loving being back at home. She may be older and more frail and she may be forgetful and even confused at times but  she is still an independent strong woman and she is still my mum and deserves to live her life the way she chooses and direct her own support.

Tips for using a one-page profile well with people with dementia:

1)      Involve the person, family and friends when creating the one-page profile. You can learn so much by talking to each other and by combining everyone’s experience. When creating my mum’s, myself, my sister some friends and my mum sat down together and had good conversations about her life, her passions and what was important to keep her healthy and well as well as happy and in control.

2)      Don’t over complicate your one-page profile, keep it simple and concise.

3)      Always ask the person what colours they like, colours are really powerful, my mum was very specific about the colours she wanted, it wouldn’t have felt like her profile if it was red or orange.

4)      Don’t forget photos, they are vital, take time to select ones that are meaningful to the person.

For more information about personalised support for people living with dementia please visit our dementia blog.

One-Page profiles; ‘How things are done at Dimensions’

Written by Dimensions UK Chief Executive, Steve Scown

Steve Scown

Steve Scown

As someone who believes firmly in leading by example, I developed my one-page profile some time ago and asked my colleagues to help me. By engaging with them in this way I had to think more deeply than I had before about what I needed from the people around me and about what was really important for me, as opposed to a long nice-to-have list.

At Dimensions we have been working towards becoming a more person-centred organisation for a number of years. As one of the leading not-for-profit providers of care and support services, we have recognised the responsibility upon us not to only provide person centred services for the people with learning disabilities and autism we support, but also to share our learning across our sector and other industries. One-page profiles have proved to be an incredibly powerful tool in helping us fulfil both of these aspirations.

My own introduction to one page profiles came as a result of our work with Helen Sanderson Associates and their potential use across many aspects of our business was soon evident.

After I had completed my profile, it was posted on our website  along with profiles for our executive team and members of our board.  I have been struck by the number of companies who have remarked how useful these were in helping them understand how to engage more effectively with us as individuals and as a company. Recently a team of legal advisors bidding for our contract came along to the interview with their own one page profiles as a result of seeing ours on our website.

We have since this initial phase begun to use them right across the business as well as embedding them as a critical tool in how we support people. In short they have become recognisable as part of ‘how things are done in Dimensions’.

In our services they have enabled us to link people with similar interests. After all when being helped to bake a cake, it’s a much nicer to be supported by someone who loves cooking and baking as opposed to someone like me who regularly burns toast and whose passion is rugby.

In addition to their use in services we have more recently strived to get one-page profiles embedded in our business support departments. Visitors to our offices will find a file with the profiles of people who work in that office – this has helped people break the ice when meeting someone for the first time. Attaching links to profiles on our e-mail footers has also helped remotely based staff feel more conformable phoning people they haven’t met who work in our centrally based teams rather sending the usual e-mail query. Many of our business support teams have developed team profiles to help others understand ‘what makes them tick’.

As with most things that require a change in behaviour (individual or corporate) and which brings about material benefits it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Some people have had concerns re sharing personal information. I think the key here has been to help people remember they are in control of the information they share and that the aim is to help people connect more easily with them. In such busy times it’s also easy to see these as a task that once it’s done is done. Our learning has been that they are more effective when they are alive and are updated as we grow and develop as individuals as opposed to something you create once and file away.

I think the introduction and embedding of one page profiles has made a really positive impact upon how we work and our organisational culture . But, I don’t think we’ve finished yet – looking ahead we will continue to think and develop new ways of using them. Already we’re thinking of how we could embed them as a key part of our recruitment process and I can see us asking families to complete a profile so our staff can better understand what is important for them and how we can better connect.

So if you’ve got any ideas on how we can use them or would like to know more about our journey please feel free to leave a comment on this blog or contact us directly.

 

5 top tips for using one-page profiles in divorce

Sue Atkins

Sue Atkins

Written by Sue Atkins

I am a Parenting Expert, Writer, Speaker, Broadcaster, Parenting Coach and a mum! I’ve used one-page profiles in my work for many years and with my own family and can’t rave enough about their usefulness for improving communication, relationships, a child’s self esteem and self confidence

More recently I have been using one-page profiles to help children and families going through the often challenging and traumatic experience of a divorce as well as working with children whose parents have separated, experiencing  all of the changes that this can bring; from living in two different homes,  splitting their time between mum and dad, moving schools, to experiencing lots of changing routines,

This is a subject very close to my heart as more than a year ago my ex husband and I started divorce proceedings.  I discovered via Facebook that he was having an inappropriate relationship with another woman which came as quite a shock!  We had been married for 21 years and had brought up  two wonderful children and shared a full life together.  But as  I tell my clients,  divorce is a process not an event and over time you begin to see the opportunities that change can open up for you.

My children are grown up now but many of the parents that I work with have younger children and they come to me because they understand that divorce is life changing and that whilst the adults are making the decisions the children can be left feeling like everything that they knew is different, leading to feelings of powerlessness, insecurity and isolation. By using one-page profiles with families going through divorce we are able to uncover what is working and not working from the child’s perspective, what is important to them and for them and what support they need during this time. It puts the child at the centre of the decision making and brings back the focus to them so that their voices are heard above the noise of a relationship break-up.

I use one-page profiles with parents too before we sit down with the children.  Supporting mum or dad to feel empowered and in control is critical to their wellbeing and therefore their ability to support their children through divorce. The more I work with families and see the results that one-page profiles can have, the more I would like to see them being used more frequently with children whose parents are getting divorce. Perhaps it is a service that divorce solicitors could offer to their clients to help their children process this life changing event? What if all schools used them and were able to help a child communicate their feelings through their profile when things are difficult at home? I often think about how we can get this resource out there to as many people as possible so that they too can experience its benefits and feel happier and better supported because of it.

I know first-hand that one-page profiles can be invaluable to keeping communication flowing and reminding us all about what is important and to whom during divorce and I’m just glad that more people are going to hear about them through this blog. Here are, in my opinion,  the top 5 benefits for using one-page profiles in divorce:

  1. It puts the child at the centre of the divorce, ahead of the emotions of the parents, ahead of any disagreements and firmly at the heart of all decision making.
  2. It can make a child feel listened to at a time when their voice could be lost amidst the noise, drama and pain of a relationship break-up.
  3. It helps parents gain clarity; direction and confidence about what mum and dad need to do to support their child in the way they want to feel supported through all the changes.
  4. It gives children and parents who use one-page profiles a sense of choice and control at a time of extreme change.
  5. Because of the way a one-page profile is structured , the information is so simple, quick and easy to digest it can be shown to school, other family members and friends so that people outside of the immediate family can contribute to supporting the child during the divorce process.

Sue Atkins is a spokesperson for one-page profiles because she believes in their value and would like to see more people learn about and be able to use the tool in their own life. If you would like to learn more about Sue Atkins and the work she does with families please visit her website.

One-page profiles in hospitals – Something to shout about!

By Julie Malette, HSA Canada

Julie Malette

Julie Malette

Our work in health care settings is fairly new in Canada.  In November, I worked with the North Bay General Hospital’s Mental Health team and I am quite excited about the direction they are taking in terms of listening to the patient voice and focusing on being more person-centred.  We spent two days focusing on person-centred thinking and one day on person-centred reviews.

The hospital’s mental health department is currently transitioning from traditional multi-disciplinary team meetings where the focus is often on clinical goals and meetings are lengthy, to what they call the ‘One Patient One Plan’ approach where mini-team meetings occur weekly with a core team of supports and focus on the patient’s priority goals.  We will be working together to look at how person-centred thinking skills/tools can be helpful with this approach.

Soon, I will also be spending time with key leaders from both the mental health and the medicine departments of the hospital to support them to develop their one-page profiles.  The hospital would like to start with its leaders who will then support their staff in developing their own one-page profiles.  This is a very important step. One-page profiles in hospitals could totally revolutionize the way patients and staff are supported. It means that healthcare workers will be supported to understand the person, not just the condition and that patients will be able to communicate what is important to them and how best to support them. Starting from within means we can really embed the concept of using one-page profiles deep within the culture of the hospital and this will give it the commitment it needs to grow and be used well by both staff and patients.

Our colleagues in the UK have already introduced one-page profiles into two hospitals and their recent pledge for NHSChangeDay (to support patients and colleagues working and using health services throughout England to create one-page profiles) has significantly raised the profile of what this could achieve in health. Nurses, Hospital Chaplains, Patients, Therapists, GPs and Hospital CEOs are mobilizing to have their own one-page profiles in support of the pledge. I’d love to see something like this happen in Canada.

I’ll keep you updated on how our own health one-page profiles are progressing and leave you with these thoughts: Imagine you were in hospital and your healthcare team really got and understood you as a person. Now imagine you are a health professional and because of a simple, easy to read sheet of paper you had all the information at your finger tips to make someone feel understood, well cared for and well supported when treating them. This is what one-page profiles in health could help us to achieve. To my UK colleagues – I wish you every success in your pledge. To my Canadian friends – what about doing something similar here?!

 

Can one-page profiles work in mental health?

Written by Sarah Carr, independent Mental Health and Social Care knowledge Consultant www.sarahcarrassocs.co.uk

Sarah carr

Sarah Carr

When I wrote my one-page profile I was thinking specifically about mental health and prevention. I reflected on what helps and hinders me and what makes me feel safe. I think my profile is a very effective tool for self-management – sometimes I lose sight of what can affect me! Because I had complete control over what is in the profile, I represented myself in a way that is true to me – I didn’t have to use a diagnosis, explain my history or fit into a category. I communicated who I am and what I need without having to label myself. In this way profiles can help with overcoming the stigma associated with psychiatric diagnosis and can challenge self-stigma. Like many people with mental health problems, I have a negative view of myself and fairly low self-worth. Here, I was especially challenged by the part where I had to think about what people appreciate and value in me, my gifts and my strengths. Although it was a hard exercise, for me it was a form of therapy. Finding good things about yourself and committing them to writing as part of a profile to be shared so you can be understood fully can be a powerful exercise for someone with low self-worth or internalised stigma. At the moment I’m using my profile to remain aware of what keeps me safe and well (and to remind me of what people value in me!) but if I should experience a crisis again I would use the profile to communicate with mental health practitioners and as a way to aid my recovery – that is recovering my life and self.

As an independent mental health and social care knowledge consultant, my lived experience of mental distress and service-use informs my work. I really wanted to join the conversation about one-page profiles on this blog site because I believe they have the potential to address many of the difficulties that people who experience mental distress or use mental health services often encounter.

One-page profiles in a mental health crisis

If someone is using mental health services a one-page profile can be a powerful way to communicate and maintain their personhood in what can often be a dehumanising, medicalised system. For someone who finds themselves in crisis and is admitted into hospital, a profile can be a very effective way of communicating who they are and what good support looks like at a time when they might not have the capacity or opportunity to do so in any other way. Many people who have been patients in psychiatric hospitals say that they felt reduced to their symptoms or diagnosis and weren’t understood as whole people with interests, strengths, talents and preferences. We now know how detrimental this can be and clinical guidelines are in place to emphasise the person-centred, human elements of mental health support such as empathy, optimism, dignity, respect, support for self-management, emotional support, being known and having appropriate activities. A one-page profile, written by the person when they feel well, with support if needed, can be an effective way to support continuity of understanding about an individual in changing circumstances and fluctuating mental health. They could be used alongside more formal Advance Directives, which are designed so the individual gets a say over treatment and other practical decisions should they become too unwell to make decisions themselves.

In the workplace

Many workers and workplaces struggle with understanding how to recognise and address the stress that can lead to new mental health problems or a relapse of existing ones. Employers may find workplace accessibility and reasonable adjustments difficult to understand for mental health. Stigma continues to be very a difficult issue for people with mental health problems who are job seeking or in employment. But as in mental health services, the solutions are often rooted in simple things like communication and being understood as an individual. Both these aspects are addressed in a one-page profile which could help facilitate a person with a mental health problem to self-manage at work and help their manager or colleagues to be supportive in practical ways. If an individual is having problems with workplace stress or is recovering from an episode of mental distress, the ‘how to support me’ part of the one-page profile can help with implementing reasonable adjustments and ensuring accessibility. Mental health stigma can be reduced and crisis prevention promoted in the workplace if every employee has a one-page profile, designed to communicate individual strengths, preferences and needs to line managers and HR personnel.

To summarise, I think that if used well, in mental health services profiles could significantly improve the experience of users and if applied in the workplace, this simple approach could make it a much safer and more accessible place. In both cases, it’s about being known as a person and being able to communicate what’s important to you, which can help with prevention and self-management as well as getting through a crisis period.

The first Social Care provider in Scotland to commit to one-page profiles; How they did it

Written by Karen Pratt

CEO Karen Pratt

CEO Karen Pratt

My background is commercial. I worked in hospitality for many years and my last role was as National Business Director for a private healthcare company.  I’m used to sitting on boards where decisions were almost always profit focused and things happened quickly because little red tape stood in our way. My move into Social Care three years ago was a bit of a culture shock but not as much as you might imagine. I am CEO of an adult learning disability support provider in North East Scotland. Inspires, support around 300 people in their own homes, in housing, employment and training. We employ over 500 staff and our vision is to empower people’s life choices

Because of a shift in the way support providers are expected to deliver services, can achieve funding and need to interact with customers, there has been a big change in the way organisations like ours operate. Whereas before providers often negotiated bulk contracts with local authorities to provide support services, we now operate in a market that puts the end customer much more firmly in the driving seat. We now need to speak to people face-to-face, find out what an individual wants and needs and tailor our service to meet their needs. Self directed support is only just filtering through in Scotland, and we are still some way behind England in terms of implementation but it is the future and as such it has very much changed the way we operate in the here and now.

People aren’t always comfortable with the concept of marrying commercial business principles with social care. It can feel a little cold and technical to discuss business models, profit and loss, forecast and projections in relation to services that have traditionally been described as third sector, charities or non-profit making. The truth is though, all organisations have to generate funds in order to operate. One of my jobs as CEO has been to ensure that the team believe in generating profits; not so that some shareholder somewhere can benefit, but so that we can allocate money into having the very best staff with the very best training, delivering exceptional services.

When I consider how much the third sector has changed in recent years, my move from commercial business to social care feels far less dramatic. I have always been customer focused and whereas before we support providers might have provided a one-size-fits-all model, now we work hard to find out about the individual, what they want, need, what their budget is, what their aspirations are for the future, what is important to them; we develop a support package that works with them to achieve this.

I’m always looking at new ways to improve our services for the people we support and to ensure that we are providing our staff teams with the very best experience. When one of our Directors first told me about one-page profiles I was keen to learn more. We learnt from social care provider, Dimensions, that profiles can help people direct their own support, match people working together, build better relationships and make good introductions. Dimensions has introduced profiles across all staff and people they support and have been fundamental in us rolling out the practice within Inspire.

I strongly believe that one-page profiles will help us to deliver person-centred support to our customers.  The profile itself is a simple and succinct tool that communicates what people like and admire about a person, what is important to someone and how to support them well. By using it within our teams we can be sure that we’re supporting staff, celebrating their gifts and understanding them well. By using it with people we support we can understand and appreciate them as individuals, match them well with others and empower them to direct their own support.

We are in the early stages but so far all head office personnel have written one-page profiles, as have service managers. We are in the process of introducing them to more support workers and to the people we support.  This is how we are doing it:

  1. Learning from the experiences of other social care providers who have taken a similar approach to personalisation
  2. Committing internally to their use at senior management level
  3. Introducing to teams at team meeting
  4. Sharing examples of one-page profiles monthly using a team brief email so that people can learn more about each other, work better together, improve relationships and see how a profile works in practice
  5. Sharing profile templates and profile writing guidelines on the intranet
  6. Sharing team member profiles on the website for customers and family members to access.

I’m hoping by sharing this practice in this blog, other providers will see how profiles can be rolled out within their organisation. I believe that as our sector continues in its customer focused drive, tools like these will become commonplace. For now though, I think we are ahead of the game and possible the only social care organisation on Scotland to have committed to introduce one-page profiles with everyone we support and employ! Something we can be proud of.

 

One-page profiles during long hospital stays

Several years ago Shelley Dumas was involved in a terrible car accident.  She was very seriously injured and used a one-page profile during her long hospital stay.

 Written by Shelley Dumas

Shelley Dumas YouTube Video

Shelley Dumas YouTube Video

Laura Buckner developed a one-page profile for me during my 5 month rehabilitation hospital stay after an automobile accident.  The focus of this  was supporting me in the hospital environment, including what people liked and admired about me and what was important to me at this time.  Laura asked several friends to send their thoughts about what they liked and admired about me (really lifting my spirits).  Then she spent time with me, asking what was important to me and how staff and visitors could support me during my hospital stay.

I observed doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists, aides and visitors stopping to read the large (11×17) laminated purple profile posted in two places in my room.  They were hard to miss.  I began to notice a difference in these people’s perceptions of me and they began to talk to me about the information in the profile.

One doctor said, “this should be in everyone’s room.”  A registered nurse and professor at the local university nursing school asked for a copy so that she could include it in her courses. Everyone would stand, read and re-read it when they came in or left my room.

It was working!  One of the ways it helped me was by communicating to everyone how important it was to me to have all my necessary items in reach. I had learned very early that I must have my cell phone, nurse’s call button, TV remote control, and my bed tray close by. These items were my security system and kept me in positive control of my life while I was there. Because of my one-page profile, people visiting me and staff would always check that they were in place before leaving my room.

All of the professionals began to know me as someone other than their typical patients and I developed several relationships that have remained in place even three years later.  The importance of having the one-page profile posted in my hospital room was unbelievably helpful during one of the most stressful times in my life.

You can watch a Youtube video of Shelley talking about her hospital experience here.