A snapshot of me

An example of how this one-page profile has helped Mark direct his own support. Ensuring that the people in his life are introduced to, and therefore connect with, his positive traits as well as understanding how best to work with him to do the things that he states as important.

Mark's one-page profile

Mark’s one-page profile

Mark is an intelligent 62 year old man who prefers to initiate conversation or physical contact with you. He will approach you if he wants to hug or talk to you. But he can become agitated if he’s not in the mood to interact. Mark sometimes uses Makaton (speech, signs and graphic symbols) to communicate but he’ll understand if you ask questions and use short sentences.

His one-page profile was developed to share basic snapshot information needed to support him in the best way possible because he has some behavioural patterns that can be avoided if the correct measures are followed. Whether at home or out and about, he prefers to be served food and drink before others and likes to have things done as quickly as possible. We provide support staff with more detail in his behavioural support plan.

Mark is not in contact with his family, so all decisions are made through his support workers, advocate and his Social Worker. This is also how we created his one-page profile.

All support staff, agency staff and relief staff have read the document. It is kept with Mark’s support plan and also on his bedroom door. The profile is updated every three months. It shares the things that people like and admire about Mark, such as his generosity, helpfulness, his sense of humour and the fact that he blames the cat for everything. As well as capturing the information people need to know to support him well, it also presents these positive attributes so that people can connect with Mark on a personal level.

All staff members are fully aware of Mark’s support needs after reading his full support plan. But Mark’s one-page profile has enabled support staff to really focus on what is important to him and the copy on his bedroom door constantly reminds them of this. For both Mark and his support workers this is a great help because it informs them of his weekly activities alongside his daily planner. It is extremely important to know how and when to initiate contact with Mark as this can determine Mark’s reaction and cooperation.

Overall the one-page profile has proven itself to be a great tool in providing as much information as possible about Mark in a very short but detailed document. It is very useful for relief/agency staff members who only have a limited amount of time to find out as much information as possible about Mark and to support him in the right way.

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Feeling confident and positive with my son’s one-page profile

A wonderful example of how this mum’s experiences of taking her son to new activities has changed from something quite stressful and often negative to something positive that gives her confidence. George’s one-page profile has changed how people interact with him, communicate with him and think about him – making his involvement in the clubs and activities he loves so much easier than before.

George's one-page profile

George’s one-page profile

Written by mum Carole

My son George is eight years old. He lives at home with me and his dad and little sister who is five. He loves singing, running and playing computer games. George has a wide range of medical diagnoses and is considered to have a moderate learning disability. He communicates through a mixture of speech and makaton signing.

George is involved in lots of afterschool clubs and activities including swimming, gymnastics and cubs. We’ve always tried wherever possible to include him in mainstream versions of the things he wants to do but had realised for some time that there is often a need to educate people before they are prepared to let him join in. Just filling in the standard forms that come with these sorts of clubs can be a lengthy process involving lots of additional pages and lots of words that can confuse and scare people rather than actually telling them very much about what it is like to spend time with George, what support he needs and what he can give in return.

We decided that a good way to share the important information about George with other people would be to use a one-page profile. We started by thinking about the sorts of questions we usually have to answer about George. We then wrote another list of all the things we wish we could tell people about George and then we asked him what he wanted to tell people about himself. It was quite a job to reduce it to one page, but when we had managed it George chose a photograph of himself that he liked to go in the middle.

We sent it to all of the groups George was attending at the time and also copied it to the people who supported George at school and to those who help us to look after him; family, befrienders and babysitters. We took on board the comments made by the people who knew him well and created a revised version which we then sent back to school with him in the September to introduce him to the new staff. We now attach a copy with applications for every new activity and when someone new starts to support our family.

The first time we used George’s one-page profile was to support a lengthy application form for a church based holiday club that was run entirely by volunteers. I was delighted on the first day to see a photocopy of the one-page profile poking out of the pocket of the lady who had been allocated to George as his one-to-one! Whereas previously I would have been loathed to leave him for at least an hour whilst I ensured this new person had understood everything I wanted them to about George, I was happy to go much sooner as this lady already understood what made him tick. George really enjoyed pointing out the photograph in the middle of the page and told the lady all about where we were when the picture had been taken. This in itself helped me have the confidence that she could understand him well.

We have continued to use it in every similar situation. Most recently we used it on George’s first evening at Cub Scouts. Although he had been a Beaver before, none of those supporting George were making the transition with him, so on the first evening we turned up with George and his one-page profile. George chose a new photo for the middle which was of him in his Beaver uniform because he wanted them to know he had enjoyed Beavers. As I sat filling in the standard application form and asking for extra sheets of paper for all the medical information the Cub Leader read through the one-page profile. When I had finished he stapled the profile to the front of the standard form and said “This will be far more useful, so I think we’ll keep it on the top!”

I watched all sorts of things happen during that first meeting. George was included in a practise for Sports Day events and activities for the Health and Fitness Badge that they were all working towards as if he had been going there for months. At the end of the evening the cubs all stood in their horse shoe for the Grand Howl which is a short ceremony which includes the cubs shouting a response to their leader. When the others began to shout one of George’s new friends helped him to put his hands over his ears to prevent him becoming distressed by the sudden increase in noise…. and I hadn’t said a word!

Since we have had the one-page profile I have felt so much more confident and positive when I turn up somewhere new with George. What had previously been a predominantly negative experience has been turned around. I now know I can get across all the things I want to as well as the things I need to and include in this the things George wants people to know too. He is happy and settling into new activities quickly. He is regularly supported by volunteers and young people who have this information easily to hand.

What he can do, not what he can’t do

An example of how this mum has used one-page profiles to support her son well at school and to ensure that the family’s relationships with health professionals are equal and balanced. Marianne wanted to introduce her son by describing what he could do, not what he couldn’t do; the one-page profile was the perfect tool.

Written by mum Marianne

Alex's one-page profile

Alex’s one-page profile

When my son Alex was about to start pre-school I knew there would be things about his support needs that I needed to be able to communicate to his teachers.  However, I really didn’t want to introduce him or for him to start school life with a long list of things that he needed help doing. I wanted the new people in his life to meet him as the cheeky, funny, confident little boy that he is.

Alex has Down’s Syndrome and from the very early days it has felt like professionals can often be more interested in what he can’t do rather than what he can do. I just didn’t want his education experience to be the same.  Unfortunately it already felt like it was going to be. I found myself filling in statements of special needs for his assessments and I realised how easy it would be to fall into this mindset. I wanted to counterbalance this with positive statements. Starting school was a massive milestone for Alex and I was determined to start him off on the right foot.

Alex’s one-page profile sets out how we want him to be treated, what is important to him and how he wants to be supported. We had used the same profile when Alex attended a short term respite centre and had a very positive reaction, with staff feeding back that it really helped them to understand him.

Using a one-page profile with Alex and his school means that we can be sure that we are presenting him in the best way and have the confidence that people will support him well.  Alex loves playing with his friends, tasty snacks, TV programmes, bubbles, singing and playing with water. He can need support when eating – to be reminded to slow down, he doesn’t understand danger –  so needs people looking out for him and he uses Makaton to communicate so it is essential that people  use this method with him.  His one-page profile covers all of this and much more and is in a simple easy-to-read format so can be picked up and understood quickly.

We update Alex’s profile every  year and I love charting his development and growth in this way.  Each year we see he finds new interests and discovers greater independence. My favourite part of updating his profile is talking to his classmates about what they like and admire about Alex. It is so nice to hear that he is well liked and fun to be around.

Since using a one-page profile with Alex and realising its potential I have introduced one for our family too. We find that we interact with so many health professionals, it sets out how best those relationships can work for us. For example, it is easier for us to have meetings on Thursdays and we prefer to have the opportunity to review paperwork in advance of the meeting. Setting out our stall in this way is empowering. It puts us on a more equal footing and as such we are in a stronger position to advocate for our son.