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.

 

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Getting the right support for you

An example of how Karen, who lives in her own home and receives 10 hours of support a week, uses her one-page profile to direct her support. Karen experiences periods of feeling low and having what is important to her and how best to support her as well as what people like and admire about her on a single sheet of paper helps to lift her mood and keep her on track at work and at college.

Karen's one-page profile

Karen’s one-page profile

Written by Tracey Gudgeon, Care UK

People describe Karen as a hardworking employee, great friend and someone who will always make time to sit and chat. Karen has her own home, which she is very proud of and loves the fact that she lives only two doors away from her best friend who she spends a lot of time with.

Karen receives 10 hours support each week to help her maintain her tenancy and to support her emotional wellbeing and health via support with menu planning and cooking.

This time last year when Karen’s service was being reviewed, the people working closely with her reported that her self esteem was very low. This meant that Karen was not going out and meeting her friends, keeping on top of her housework and not eating properly. It was also starting to have an effect on her job and college as she was struggling with timekeeping, was tired and finding it hard to concentrate.

The review highlighted that what wasn’t working was that when Karen was receiving the 10 hours support in the week she was asking staff to play jigsaws or just sit and chat. The team were not clear on their roles and responsibilities and Karen did not understand the purpose of her support and the outcomes which were expected, and what the support was funded for.

Karen and her team got together and created a one-page profile, highlighting Karen’s important to’s and important for’s. Karen really enjoyed doing this and was also happy to go further by creating a “Feeling Good” document with photos of how she looked and felt when she was looking great and had her hair done , nails painted , pretty clothes on. Karen also wanted photographs of her house in it when it was tidy. She asked if her staff would use it when she was beginning to get low as a gentle reminder of how much better she felt when things were going well.

Karen’s one-page profile has been paramount in informing the support she receives and therefore ensuring she not only keeps her job, continues to be a great student but also maintains her tenancy. Karen’s staff team now know what is important to her and how best to support her well and use the one-page profile to help Karen keep on track and keep achieving her goals.

‘Down to Earth’ What does your #OnePP say about you?

Executive Director at Action on Hearing Loss, Louise shares how she uses her one-page profile professionally; introducing it into their recruitment process and using it to break the ice with colleagues and families when meeting for the first time.

Louise's one-page profile

Louise’s one-page profile

Written by Louise Pritchard

At Action on Hearing Loss we have made a commitment to personalisation and have a programme approach looking at ways we can improve as an organisation to be more person centred.

One of the things we have been doing is asking everyone working in our Care and Support directorate to have a one-page profile.  The process of creating these has helped people and teams to understand each other more, and provided an insight into the best way of working with colleagues. By creating my own one-page profile I recognised that I am a pragmatist and a realist and now my colleagues know not to be put off if I put creative ideas down, they know to work with me to find a practical solution.

We live in a culture where giving or receiving a compliment can feel uncomfortable.  Using like and admire in team meetings has broken down this barrier and people have said afterwards they feel they can be more honest and open with each other.  Staff have found it really helpful in appraisals and one to ones too. The profiles facilitate positive feedback and open up conversations.  We have found that talking about “how best to support me” makes it easier for staff to ask for the support they need from their manager.

I can see when a team has adopted one-page profiles as they “gel” together and work in harmony; they understand how to get the best out of each other. People have found it easier to work out issues when there is no blame – just “this is how I see it”. When other depts. have seen the positive impact this work has had its inspired them to create their own one-page profiles.

We use one-page profiles as part of recruitment, asking people to create their own profile and bring it with them to interview.  This means the people we support can get to know a bit about candidates and be more effectively involved in the recruitment. We want the people who work for us to understand they need to give something of themselves in order to create trust and build a relationship with the people we support.

My one-page profile has given me insight into the way I work, and how others see me. I have two BSL sign names that have been given to me by people I work with, one is a clawed hand on the back of the head as I always wear my hair in a bun, and the other is the sign for “down to earth”.

When I am out visiting services or attending events some staff can find meeting an Executive Director a bit daunting, but after reading my one-page profile it breaks the ice and people know they can just talk to me, hence the sign name “down to earth”.

I attend a lot of conferences and formal gatherings, and I get sent the conference pack with biographies of speakers, or asked to send mine.  They tend to be very formal about the person’s professional achievements and where they have worked, but don’t give you a sense of the person or what’s important to them.

I am often tempted to send my one-page profile instead of the traditional biography but I have so far held back as I wonder if people would know what a one-page profile was. Next time I will be brave and put it out there with the biography!!

First create your own, then support others to create theirs

An example of how by creating their own one-page profiles professionals can feel confident and empowered to support others in the process.

Written by Rebecca*

Rebecca's one-page profile

Rebecca’s one-page profile

I’m employed by a provider of learning, support and care for children and adults with learning disabilities. I manage two services and we encourage all members of staff and the people we support to have a one-page profile.

It is a really good way for families to know who is supporting them, and for them to get to know the kind of people employed. In the services I manage, there are often staffing changes due to the type of support provided and sometimes the support is brand new, having come from another provider. My one-page profile breaks the ice with a new family or member of staff, giving them information about me, so they see a person, not just a name or job title. This makes it much easier to communicate.

I completed my one-page profile myself, but found it difficult to think of the ‘what people like and admire about me’ section so I talked to friends, colleagues and family to ask them about what they thought. I completed it over a period of time, thinking about it in my work and personal life, to really reflect on what is important to me and the support that works well for me, which made it more comprehensive.

I use my one page-profile with my staff team and with people who I support so they can get to know me well. It was also used as an example to the people we support as the kind of thing that staff should be aiming for when helping them produce their own. Staff found it helpful to write a one-page profile for themselves before doing it with the children and young people they visit.

Producing my one-page profile helped me to think about the things in my life that are important to me and therefore helped me to think about what was important to the people I support.  Perhaps before, I might not have thought about it in that level of detail. For example, because my family are important to me, it made me realise that it was vital to include children’s families when supporting them to complete their support planning process. It was helpful for me also to see that the things in my personal life that were important to me impacted on the way I like people to work with me and support me. As a result of developing my own one-page profile I am more confident; family and friends have been proactive in helping me to think positively about myself, I feel reassured in my way of working and feel uplifted as a result. It’s increased my respect for myself and given me greater confidence in working with others.

Having a one-page profile has been really helpful, particularly in building those crucial initial relationships with the families we support. It has helped them to get to know me as a person, with specific interests and has opened up conversations helping them to feel more confident about the company. It has achieved much for the service, especially in helping other staff to complete them for themselves, and for the children and young people they support. One-page profiles are developing more throughout the service, with staff members and people we support, people are enjoying creating them and using them to get to know people better.

*names have been changed.

Healthier, happier and in control – with a one-page profile

When Paul’s support team realised that he didn’t have a one-page profile they knew they needed to create one with him straight away. Paul owns his own home and is supported to live the life he chooses. His profile contains some very specific information about how to support him well, crucial to his ongoing health and wellbeing.

Paul's one-page profile

Paul’s one-page profile

Written by Tracey Gudgeon, Care UK

Paul is a gentleman who lives by the sea in North Wales. He owns his own home which he bought after his parents passed away. Paul is a fabulous artist and the other love of his life is his religion.

Previously Paul lived at home with his mum and dad and has been supported since buying his own home.

It was summer time and Paul was due to review his service again. He’s already had a Person-centred review so knew what it entailed and was looking forward to it. On the day of his review though, Paul decided it was far too nice a day to sit around  and he changed his mind about what he was going to do that day. He made up a picnic and went off on a long walk up the Orm, which is one of his favourite places and takes him past his old family home.

Paul told his team manager that he was happy for his team to spend time thinking from their perspective about what was working and not working and it was whilst doing this it was noticed that Paul did not have a one-page profile.

A one-page profile captures the important information about a person on one sheet of paper. It celebrates their gifts and talents as well as highlights what is important to them and how best to support them. It was considered essential that Paul should have one so his team set about working with him to create one at the earliest opportunity.

Paul’s one-page profile does have very detailed information around what is good support in relation to his cigarettes which play a big part in his daily routines. Paul’s world can revolve around when he is having his next cigarette and although he wants to cut down, he finds it hard to do so, just like so many other people.

The one-page profile supported Paul’s team to do their job better and have a clearer understanding of just exactly what was important in Paul’s life.

Having the one-page profile highlighted the need for better consistency with the staff rota , and helping Paul know just who was coming on to support him . This helped with Paul’s anxieties which in turn meant he didn’t feel the need to smoke as much.

The other benefits from completing a one-page profile has been that Paul has been able to feel healthier and lost some weight (which certainly helps when walking along the sea front or up the Orm). This has again been due to information highlighted around the need for good support with menu planning , budgets and shopping.

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.

Speaking out – not suffering in silence

An example of how a one-page profile can help communicate the essential information needed to support a child with a long term health condition in school. Jessenia doesn’t like to make a fuss and can find it difficult to speak out about what she needs. Her one-page profile does this for her and ensures she is not put at risk because of a lack of information or understanding.  

Jessenia's one-page profile

Jessenia’s one-page profile

Written by Jessenia’s mum 

My eight year old Jessenia attends Oxley Park Academy and is in Year 4.  She was born with a congenital heart defect and has had four major heart operations since her birth, and many minor procedures. The last one was when she was five years old.  Jessenia is a child that likes to please the adults around her. She wants to be recognised for her well-behaved manner and strives for this recognition. She has a maturity about her and relates more to older children and adults.

As Jessenia’s mum I felt that she needed a one-page profile because physically she looks well, so unless you know of her heart condition, it would be difficult for someone who didn’t spend much time with her to recognise that she was having difficulty.  PE is quite demanding for Jessenia and although she wants to join in with her classmates she can’t always keep up and often just needs to sit down and rest.

Also walking long distances is very difficult for her as her heart has to work twice as hard as everyone elses and therefore she tires a lot quicker. She is flat footed too and this causes pains in her legs. We wanted to make sure that adults would recognise when Jessenia needed help as Jessenia herself doesn’t like to make a fuss and tends to suffer in silence because she doesn’t want to disturb the class.

Signs of Jessenia needing help can include constant coughing, sweating and tummy pain.  Jessenia finds it hard to eat, drink and breathe together and therefore eats a lot slower than her peers and subsequently needs more time to finish her meal or drink. This is why we asked that she be allowed to eat some of her lunch at break time and be allowed to drink during class time.

Jessenia’s one-page profile is kept in her classroom and also a copy in a central file. It helps her teacher to recognise when she might need some help and also lets her know what Jessenia’s needs might be when she is in difficulty.  It also means that if her usual teacher or teaching assistants are not around, the crucial information is readily available for whoever is in charge

Jessenia has found her one-page profile particularly helpful because it means that she doesn’t have to explain to adults why she is using the lift and why she needs liquids throughout the day.  She lacks confidence and doesn’t like to be put on the spot. The profile has also helped Jessenia because she knows that all the adult staff are aware of her issues and if she finds something difficult she is more comfortable to say so.  She now appreciates that others want to help her and will keep an eye on her.

As her mum, knowing Jessenia has a one-page profile has given me the confidence that all adult staff taking care of her when I’m not there are aware that she has a heart defect and that she is physically unable to keep up with her classmates sometimes. It also means that when she shows real signs of difficulty and may be in trouble, I am reassured that people know exactly what action to take.

Starting with your best foot forward

A wonderful example of how this boy’s one-page profile communicates all the things he can do, loves to do and that are important to him. Freddie’s mum felt that before using the one-page profile she’d be introducing her son with a long list of things that he struggles with. Now she has the perfect way of introducing him as the kind, brave, caring, giggly and perseverant boy that he is.

Freddie's one-page profile

Freddie’s one-page profile

Written By Freddie’s mum Tracee

When my son Freddie first started school, I hadn’t heard about one-page profiles. And so I made a list of everything I thought his new school might need to know as Freddie has Down’s Syndrome and sometimes needs a little extra help to go about his day in the best possible way.  Reading the list out loud, compiled mostly of things he struggles to achieve, to the assembled faculty was fairly depressing – and not just for me I imagine!

When I created Freddie’s first one-page profile I didn’t know too much about them, except that I liked the concept. And though it was a step forward, it wasn’t as balanced as it could be and crossed into what our family needed instead of focusing solely on Freddie’s needs. I’ve since had access to a book and workshop on the subject and now we include the people in Freddies life and as much as possible, Freddie himself, in compiling new versions and we update it every year.

We use the profile whenever Freddie starts a new class, goes to summer camp or joins a new club. Even summer camps he has attended in previous years appreciate an update on where Freddie is in life at that time.

When we hand out Freddie’s profile, we know we are giving Freddie the best possible chance of success in a new setting. Not just for him, but also for the person charged with caring for him. And in our family, successful days usually equal very happy days.

We’ve had very positive feedback from camp orgnanisers, who look forward to meeting this smiling boy who loves to read and run and jump outside. They like that they can quickly understand how best to support him and who of their team is best placed to provide that support.

Importantly the profile focuses as much on what Freddie can do and likes to do as it does what he needs support with. I feel this means he isn’t underestimated when he goes somewhere new. It means someone has information to build the foundations of friendship on and can suggest activities they can do together that he will like.

At school, when we presented the profile to the new class teacher she took it to the Head, who could immediately see how useful this simple person-centred thinking tool could be and said she was going to recommend that all children with special needs in the school had one.

Freddie’s younger sister Eden doesn’t have special needs. But when Eden starts school, I’ll be providing her teacher with a profile all the same as I want her to have the same opportunities for success as her brother. I can see the benefit in all children having one-page profiles in school and this is something I would love to happen.

I worry less about Freddie starting something new. Everyone involved gets the opportunity to start with their best foot forward and that can only be a positive thing.

We’re due to update the profile in the summer and as Freddie is that bit older (he is six now) I’m looking forward to including him a little bit more and recognising how much he has grown during the year.

What a difference; empowered, settled and happy in school

An example of how using a one-page profile from an early age has helped Lucy express what she needs and positively influence the support she receives.  Lucy’s one-page profile has followed her through school from the age of eight and at age thirteen, it’s hard to imagine how things would have turned out without it.

Lucy's one-page profile

Lucy’s one-page profile

Written by Gill Goodwin of HSA

Lucy was placed for adoption aged two after moving to foster care just before her first birthday due to extreme neglect. Now thirteen, Lucy has settled well however the legacy of her difficult start means she can become very anxious, has some difficulties with learning and some sensory problems. Lucy has a statement of educational need and receives full time support in her local mainstream school.

Since being eight years old Lucy has had a one-page profile. At the time she was experiencing symptoms of anxiety and we had hoped that a profile would enable her to be happier and more relaxed in school and optimise her relationships and learning.I visited Lucy and her Mum at home and we talked about what made a good day for Lucy and the kind of things Lucy felt would make a difference for her. I then spent some time with her class teacher and teaching assistant in school. Putting together the profile with Lucy’s mum meant that we were able to double check that it fully reflected Lucy from her perspective and covered all the important information that people needed to know to support her well.

Almost immediately after introducing Lucy’s first one-page profile her level of anxiety reduced and in turn some of her repetitive behaviours such as adjusting her clothes and pulling up her socks. It also had a positive effect on her skills such as reading aloud and her motivation to try activities in school.

Each year we update her profile in preparation for the school year ahead. Now that Lucy is in secondary school her Special Needs Coordinator goes through the one-page profile with her Teachers and Teaching Assistants at a meeting before the year starts. She ensures all staff have a copy and that the TAs in particular know the best ways to support Lucy and enable her to have good days.  Little things like teachers smiling at her specifically when she enters the room make her feel more relaxed.  Lucy’s one-page profile means that staff are aware of the things that can make Lucy upset and ensure that situations do not escalate and that she is supported to stay calm.

As she has matured Lucy has been able to identify the kind of support she knows will help her and is confident to tell her learning coach and SENCo. For example at her annual review she was able to say why she found the support from one TA less helpful and could explain that she needed her to give information one step at a time and not give the next instruction while she was writing or thinking. Having the one-page profile, and it so clearly belonging to her, has meant Lucy seems to understand that it is her responsibility to let people know how to support her in the best way. She also knows the way to phrase things and is therefore becoming empowered to influence positively the support she is given.

School staff  in her new school have quickly got to know Lucy and what makes her tick and these close supportive relationships have been pivotal in her successful inclusion into a large mainstream comprehensive school.

Lucy has had a one-page profile for so long now that it is difficult to know how things would have been without one! Lucy is happy, settled and has all the opportunities at school and at home open to her, which is what she and her family had wished for.

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.