Big life changes from good conversations

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

Ken's one-page profile

Ken’s one-page profile

Written by Ruth Hamm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A snapshot; This is me!

An example of how by developing a one-page profile this mother of three has built the confidence to self advocate and direct her own support.  Marie started her profile journey after a stay in a woman’s shelter led her to Centrepoint Facilitation for Housing. Her story demonstrates how strength, perseverance and better communication can lead to positive life changes.

Marie's one-page profile

Marie’s one-page profile

Written by Carol Carters

Eva Marie is a single mother with three young children who we met in July 2012. She was staying at a local woman’s shelter with her children and was referred to Centerpoint Facilitation for Housing Support.  Eva Marie is 30 years old and likes to go by the name Marie. She has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and so have two of her children. 

The one-page profile was developed with Marie so that I, as her Housing Support Worker, could learn more about her and her family and how best to support them. It was also intended to help Marie share what was important to her in regards to her children and to assist her in being able to see what a wonderful mother and person she is.  It was hoped that the one-page profile would give anyone supporting Marie a “snapshot” of who she is and how best to support her as an individual.

In order to develop her profile Marie and I first met to work through what is important to her and her family. Together, we then talked about how Marie would best like to be supported, and what people should do to support her.  We met several times in order to develop the profile. During this time Marie was able to find housing and moved into her new home.

The one-page profile helped me and other supports in her life to not only understand her more deeply and support her in the way that she wanted and needed, but it also identified all of Marie’s gifts and strengths.  It gave Marie a huge sense of self achievement, helping her to see how she has persevered and how strong and independent she really is.  Since the one-page profile was developed with Marie, she has taken pride in being able to advocate for herself and make the community connections that she wanted for herself and her girls.

Soon after her profile was developed, Marie received an eviction notice from her landlord.  Marie felt that the eviction notice was unfair and started proceedings to dispute it all on her own.  I supported her in this, in the way that her profile specified.

The impact the one-page profile has had on her has been significant in her feeling strong and able to deal with the different challenges that her disability and the disabilities of her children present.  Marie and her children are supported in the way that works for them, as people can clearly see what this looks like.  When I am away, the backup Housing Support Worker can take a look at Marie’s profile and know how to support her and her family.

Marie is more confident in her own abilities and is able to advocate for herself in many different situations such as her income, her children’s school, and her tenancy.

Read how Helen Sanderson Associates are using person-centred thinking tools with people who are homeless or who need support to find housing here.