Using profiles in early years

Written by Guest Blogger, Nathan Archer, Development Manager at Montessori Nursery, Read Nathan’s one-page profile.

 

Nathan Archer

Nathan Archer

Lincolnshire Montessori offers nursery and Primary education from two sites in Lincolnshire. We have children from six months through to 11 years old on roll and a team of sixty professionals on site.

We first discovered one-page profiles via a weekly early years sector Tweet Up #EYtalking on Tuesdays 8.00pm GMT.

The weekly theme was on Learning Journeys, which for those who are unfamiliar, are an approach to formative assessment in the early years, which is largely qualitative and respectful. Essentially, observations of individual or groups of children are written and often comprise photographic evidence, children’s artwork or a record of their ‘voice’ in a range of ways. Parents/carers, family members and other professionals are also encouraged to contribute. Many early years settings collect these stories in booklet, file or scrap book format to form the child’s learning journey through the Early Years Foundation Stage.

During this discussion, a colleague pointed us to Helen Sanderson Associates website and the youtube video on one-page profiles.

Cue Light bulb moment!

What struck us was the way in which such personal information would enable us to really know a child and their family, developing a much deeper understanding of a child’s personality, disposition, routines and welfare needs in an holistic way.

One of the four main themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage  is ‘A Unique Child’ and we felt that one-page profiles were a very tangible way of reflecting our understanding of the needs of individual children.

We purchased a postcard from the Helen Sanderson website which gave an example of a profile for a little girl called Flo. This proved a helpful basis for developing our own profiles. We took the headings from the card as the basis;

What do we love about….

What is important to…..

How to look after….

Our Head of Early Years Jo Robinson completed a sample one-page profile based on her youngest son which served as a prompt for both parents and professionals about the kind of information which might be shared to inform the child’s care.

We have coupled this one-page profile with a starting point sheet (an OfSTED requirement) which enables the team to capture a child’s starting points in terms of their development in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). On the reverse of the profile, Practitioners make brief notes under the seven areas of learning and the Characteristics of Effective Learning; Active Learning, Playing and exploring and Creativity and Critical thinking.

By combining these two elements we have created a real snapshot of a child who joins us, both in terms of their uniqueness and how best to meet their needs, with a summary of their learning and development as a base for future progress.

Feedback from parents/carers has been very positive and we feel that children are even better cared for with their individual needs more closely met.

There has also been real enthusiasm from the team for the new one-page profiles, who rather than seeing it as yet another form, feel they are capturing helpful information to really personalise the care and education we offer.

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Is this care you would be happy with?

It started with a person-centred thinking course attended by Sue, the care home manager and now Sam, the people he lives with and the people who support them are on a life-changing journey. An example of how this man’s one-page profile has led to him reigniting old relationships and hobbies; making him feel like he has a purpose again. 

Sam's one-page profile

Sam’s one-page profile

Written by Gill Bailey

Sam is 78 and lives in a residential care home supporting older people on the Fylde Coast.

The manager, Sue, went on a person-centred thinking course and decided that things in the care home should and could change. She knew this required a huge shift in culture. This shift began with uniforms no-longer being worn, to create a more ‘family feel’ and a no ‘them and us’ culture. Toilets became communal – so there were no separate staff toilets, no staff mugs and sitting and eating with people who lived there became the way things were done.

Sue’s enthusiasm was contagious and the majority of the staff team are now competent in using the person-centred thinking tools. Each member of staff was taken off rota for two hours and asked to simply sit in the lounge in order to feel, hear and see the ‘lived experience’ of the people they supported. They were then asked “is this care you would be happy with?” The resounding answer was ‘no’ and so the desire for real change began in earnest.

They began to develop one-page profiles with everyone who lived in the home and staff developed their own which included their hobbies and interests . Sam who lives in the home developed his one-page profile with help from Sue.

The main thing that wasn’t working for Sam was that his friendships had all been lost after spending three months in hospital and then coming to live in the home four years earlier. Sam particularly missed his connection with the crown green bowling club he had belonged to for a number of years – he had lost all contact with his old mates.

Sam was supported to write to some of his old friends and as they responded, he gained the confidence to think about how he could reconnect with the bowling club, which wasn’t far away from the home. There was a spring in Sam’s step as he anticipated the possibilities.

The challenge now was finding the right staff member to support Sam to go and watch the bowling. Sue found that Greg, a new member of staff, looked the perfect match for Sam, as he too was a keen bowler. Sam agreed. Within a month, they went off to the bowling club together. Sam cannot bowl because of his hip injury but enjoyed catching up with his old friends, while Greg would play a few games. After a couple of months, it was as though Sam had never been away. Greg and Sam went once a fortnight.

Sam now writes the monthly newsletter for the bowling club. Prior to retiring, Sam was a keen writer and produced the church newsletter each week, so he feels that he is giving something back.

Sam’s life feels very different now and as he said recently, “I’ve got something to get up for, meeting the lads and I’m working on a newsletter”. This all began by listening well to Sam and developing his one-page profile with him. The information it captures is used by all those involved in Sam’s support to ensure that he is living life the way he chooses.

Read more about personalisation and dementia including blogs, resources and related media articles at www.personalisationanddementia.wordpress.com

Living with dementia – Shirley loves to feel the rain on her face

A powerful example of how a one-page profile can empower people living with dementia to direct their own support. Shirley is now supported in a way that makes sense to her thanks to the deeper understanding people have about what is important to and for her.

Shirley's one-page profile

Shirley’s one-page profile

Written by Narindra Devi and Gill Bailey

Shirley is 78 years old and a retired accountant living in Wolverhampton.  For the last five years Shirley has lived in a residential service supporting people living with dementia. Described as a strong character who is always kind and considerate, Shirley is very active and can rarely be found sitting down but prefers to be on the go, walking around and chatting to others.

As someone who has worked with numbers her whole life it isn’t surprising that Shirley still talks about and quotes numbers to people regularly. This is something that the staff who know Shirley well understand and are able to respond to. In the same way, the support staff who know Shirley well realise how important it is to enable her to freely move around and how she doesn’t like to sit still. Recently it became apparent that some staff didn’t know these important details about Shirley. She was being asked to sit down more which was causing her to be distressed and she was also getting upset when her support team didn’t converse with her about numbers and statistics; something that she loved to do.

Meeting together, the staff team realised that only a few of them knew what worked for Shirley and that they needed to find a way of sharing this information more widely so that everyone could support Shirley well. To do this they used a one-page profile. Together the team talked about all the things that were important to Shirley and what best support looked like. They shared what they like and admire about Shirley and these appreciations were all captured on her one-page profile.

The profile communicates vital information about how to support Shirley well. All staff must be aware never to try and make Shirley sit down as this would lead to her becoming very distressed and could lead to her harming herself or others. They also learnt that when giving Shirley medication they should wait for her to pass and never chase after her as this would create great distress and anxiety for Shirley. Another rich insight that is shared on Shirley’s profile is her dislike of people touching or talking about her feet. Making staff aware of this means they can avoid upsetting Shirley unintentionally.

Shirley now has more control over how she lives because the people who support her understand what is important to her. She now goes for walks outdoors as much as possible. Previously staff would have shied away from supporting her outside if it was raining but they now understand how important this time is for her and acknowledge that going out for a short time in a little rain won’t cause Shirley any harm and actually she appears to love to feel the rain on her face if her huge smile is anything to go by!!

Even new staff can get to know Shirley well and quickly by looking at her one-page profile.

Shirley is much more relaxed and content since developing her one-page profile. It is my belief that if we are to truly personalise support for people living with dementia, we have to support a way of living which makes sense to the person as well as ensuring they stay healthy, safe and well. This has been achieved for Shirley.

For more details on Gill Bailey and Helen Sanderson’s book; Personalisation and Dementia please visit Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

The cancer wasn’t going to control me

Madge's one-page profile

Madge’s one-page profile

How one-page profiles can help people living with cancer to communicate with family, friends and professionals how best to support them.

Written by Gill Bailey 

Madge, 67, lives on the Fylde Coast. She is full of fun, a great story teller and very sociable. She has three children and four grandchildren. Her family are her life and Madge gets a great deal of pleasure from her grandchildren who range from six to eleven years old. Madge’s daughter Sally and her son Ian live nearby with their partners. Her other son Sam lives in Australia and Madge talks to him on Skype every weekend.

One year ago Madge’s world changed irreversibly. She was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. Two months after receiving her diagnoses Madge underwent major surgery. On a bad day, Madge struggles to get out of bed. She often has to use a wheelchair to get about. She struggles to eat and enjoy her food and finds it difficult to sleep. Madge’s illness has taken its toll on her physically. She has lost three stone in recent months and her mobility is suffering more and more. But it is the mental and emotional impact that her diagnosis has had on Madge and her family which she finds most upsetting. Madge is a strong, intelligent, independent woman and watching the people she loves worry after her, seeing the concern in their eyes as they watch her eat or fretfully ask after her wellbeing has been incredibly hard. Madge needed to find a way of managing her condition, her emotions and those of the people close to her. The cancer wouldn’t go away but Madge wasn’t going to let it take control of her life.

We introduced person-centred thinking tools and specifically a one-page profile to Madge so that she could explore and communicate what was important to her and how best people could support her. As well as helping Madge to talk openly about her hopes and fears, she was able to specifically address some of the things that she found most frustrating about her condition and in turn how people could help her to manage this.

Madge developed a one-page profile and shared it with family and friends but also with medical and support staff who needed to understand Madge better in order to care for her in the way that she wished. In her one-page profile, Madge highlighted the importance of her family, the set time that she spends with them and the regular skype chats that she has with Sam each week. She noted her weekly luncheon club and card games with her friends. She described how important it was that people continued to share their good news with her because it helped keep her spirits up and how staying out of hospital was something she strived for daily.

Once she had stated the important things in her life, Madge was able to clearly say how people could support her to stay happy and healthy. This included helping her with the technical side of the skype sessions. Knowing that she was embarrassed by the wheelchair she sometimes had to use. Not making a fuss or cheering her on for clearing her plate when eating. Understanding that hospital appointments made her anxious and so organising the logistical side of it first and then letting her know who would be coming with her and when helped..

The one-page profile, together with other person-centred thinking tools, has been used to review Madge’s care and plan her support. It has helped the people closest to her to focus on the positive things they can do to support her, something which is incredibly difficult when dealing with the sadness of cancer and the changes that it brings. Madge’s family and friends remain the most important parts of her life and she is choosing to spend her time with the people she loves. She won’t stop laughing and she won’t let the cancer stop her living her life the way she wants to live it.

To create your own one-page profile and use other person-centred thinking tools to help with your cancer or long term health condition journey you can visit the think about your life website.

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.