With great support you can achieve great things

A powerful story about one man’s journey from a secure hospital ward to happily living in his own home, using his one-page profile to direct his support and communicate the things that are most important to him.

Michael's one-page profile

Michael’s one-page profile

Written by Tracie Gudgeon of Care UK

When we met Michael he was living on a secure ward with two people supporting him at all times. The people supporting him wore personal attack alarms and were charged with 15 minute observations. This is worlds apart from where he is now. Twenty-nine year old Michael now lives in his own home which he loves people to visit. Not only will he greet visitors with warmth and affection but he will remember how they take their tea and coffee and any other small detail from the last time they were there.

Back when Michael was living on the secure ward a person-centred transitional plan was arranged to see how life could be better for Michael.  It was vital that the people supporting him understood what Michael’s autism looked like for Michael and that they really understood who he was.

We started spending time with Michael in his hospital and worked with him to develop his Circle of Support. A Circle of support is a group of people that come together with the common purpose of helping the person at the centre of the Circle to achieve their goals. We looked into who the important people in Michael’s life were and this in turn led us to learn more about what matters to him.

We started to work alongside his existing support team to help us get to know Michael and would spend time just sitting with him or joining him on his daily routines to understand his world better. Michael started to express himself more during this process and would share with us his aspirations and dreams. We leant that he would like to learn to swim and ride a bike and he shared this with us through pictures.

Michael’s one-page profile captures the confident, fun and outgoing man that he is. With the right support and vision Michael now has his own space and directs his own support. His one-page profile clearly communicates what is important to him and how best to support him so that those people involved in Michael’s life know just how to support him in a way that makes sense.

Michael will think nothing of walking into a room of strangers and socializing with them now and attends a local club night with his friends every Friday – at long last he feels like one of the lads.  Only just recently we saw Michael confidently presenting his thoughts and views to an audience at a regional working together for change event.  The transformation is inspirational.

Michael has now learnt to ride his bike and has twice weekly swimming lessons which are recorded in his one-page profile. He has a busy social calendar, and is an active advocate at our Care UK Listen to me Group. Michael’s support is directed by his one-page profile and his story is evidence that with great support you can achieve great things.

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

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

Jennie's Team one-page profile

Jennie’s Team one-page profile

Written by Zoe Robinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Support Worker; better communication with colleagues

An example of how creating a one-page profile can give better insight into how others perceive you and the qualities that they value. This Senior Support Worker found the process improved communication within her team and has assisted her personally in supporting Jennie to keep updating her own profile.

Written by Zoe, Independent Options

Zoe OPPMy name is Zoe and I work for Independent Options as a Senior Support Worker to Jennie; a lovely, bright, independent young woman. I work as part of a core team of five, supporting Jennie to live in her own home.

I have worked in social care for over 14 years and previously used person-centred planning tools but it wasn’t until Jennie moved into her own flat three years ago and I met with her Circle of Support that I first learnt about how to use one-page profiles effectively. Helen Sanderson from Helen Sanderson Associates is one of the people in Jennie’s Circle as well as her family and friends. Collectively Jennie’s Circle work with Jennie and her support team to make sure she is living life the way she chooses and putting support in place to help her achieve her goals. Helen is a person-centred thinking practitioner and so helped me to understand how to use one-page profiles to get the best results.  We supported Jennie to produce her own and as I work closely with her it was imperative that I had one too.

I found it really useful creating my own profile. Not only because it would help me to support Jennie to keep updating hers, as the things that were important to her changed, but also because it helped me communicate with the other people in the team about who I was and how best we could work together. It was also very nice to hear what other people thought about me in the ‘what people like and admire about you’ section.  Honest and dedicated are traits that I hold in high regard and it felt good that people recognised these traits in me.  I was also described as zany, bubbly and with fab style – this is the other great thing about one-page profiles – as well has holding specific information about how best to work together, it also gives a personal impression; a sort of personality snapshot.  Essential if you are working in a team as close-knit as ours.

One of the most useful outcomes that came from creating my one-page profile was that my colleagues described me as knowledgeable and approachable.  As a senior Support Worker I am often the first port of call for other people in the team needing guidance. I’m not big on hierarchical structures and I don’t like titles but I do take my responsibilities seriously and it reminded me that my team did look to me for that support. It was reassuring to hear that they felt that I had the skills and personality to deliver it.

We have since produced a team one-page profile combining what we all know about each other and what is important to and for us collectively.  I am sure that these profiles have improved our understanding and communication massively – all of which has contributed to Jennie’s ongoing success as she continues to grow in confidence and has new exciting experiences.

You can find out more about Circles of Support from Community Circles Groupsite, Facebook and Twitter.