What they can achieve still amazes me!

Cath’s journey to being a fitter and healthier person demonstrates how one-page profiles can still bring surprising results, even for those who work with them daily and know their worth.

Cath's one-page profile

Cath’s one-page profile

Written by Cath Barton

In my early forties I became more concerned about my weight, fitness (or rather lack of) and overall health and wellbeing.  I was in the habit of crash dieting before a holiday or big event, only to put the weight back on, ending up feeling deflated and unsuccessful.  I knew I wasn’t alone in this and some people spent their life feeling this way. The difference for me was that I am a Person Centred Planning Coordinator. My day job is to use person-centred approaches. I had the resources and knowledge to identify the things that are important to me, think about the support that works best and make positive changes.  I had even used one-page profiles for myself and family in my personal life but for some reason I hadn’t thought to apply it to my health and wellbeing before now.

I promote person-centred approaches passionately and needed to practice what I preach and use the tools at my disposal to create and support change within my own life.

I decided to develop a one-page profile specifically for keeping healthy. Not to focus on dieting, as I knew that in the past this had been a short term solution, rather to think about what was important to me about keeping healthy and the support I needed to achieve this.

I took some time thinking about what worked well for me, what did good healthy days look like, when did I feel I had achieved, how could I have more days like this? I recorded the information, shared it with my family and put it on our achievement wall in the kitchen where it was easy to see.

I’m constantly amazed by the changes that can be achieved from information recorded on a single sheet of paper.  I feel much more in control of my health and fitness. Simply having the information at my fingertips has helped me to focus.  It’s made me much more positive about exercise too, not seeing it as a chore but remembering how good it feels afterwards.  I’ve even started Pilates and swimming and met some interesting people through this.

I wanted to be able to make long term changes, not quick fixes and my one-page profile supports me to do this, incorporating healthy eating and exercise as part of my daily routine with support and encouragement from those around me.  It will always be a work in progress, to review regularly and keep up to date. But this time I won’t be obsessing over the scales. I’ll be asking myself how I feel.

New learning for me was also how powerful the appreciation section in the one-page profile can be.  It’s not about fishing for compliments or simply having positive words recorded. For me it was recognising what others admired about me, qualities I might not have recognised myself but which boosted my confidence and desire to achieve.  I want to uphold people’s views of me; be determined and strive for success. Having others recognise that I can succeed is a powerful motivator.

So did my one-page profile help to support positive change?  Most definitely!  I’m fitter than I have been for a long time, I’ve found an exercise I love to do and have a good balance in my life.  One of my proudest moments was swimming my first mile.  I’m still amazed by the difference it has made and grateful for the success my one-page profile has supported me to achieve.

By regaining your identity, you release your child to build theirs

Guest Blog by Rachel Mason, Parent carer

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason

Once upon a time, I had a live-in job at a Prep school as a boarding matron at the time. Looking after all those little ones, would get me dreaming of the day when I’d have my own.

On my nights off, my now hubby and I would  sit in the pub and picture picnics at the coast and football in the park.  We just knew we’d make brilliant parents

This was probably the last time I allowed myself to dream for many years to come.

We began our journey as an SEN family in 1989 when my eldest son Greg was diagnosed with Autism and learning disabilities at 27 months old and Shaun with Autism 2 years later. As time went on our dreams disappeared and  my life seemed to be shrinking in ever decreasing circles until I was living day to day in a reactionary survival mode. There were plenty of specialist services around our sons, delivering to their own assessed needs.

Year in, Year out we would read reports of their progress towards the ‘social norm’ but for our family it was always Groundhog Day.

We were passive passengers on this new journey that services had set our family on.

We had lost any control of our lives and  the will to dare dream of a different future than the one chosen for us.

In 2004, Norah Fry research centre and Helen Sanderson Associates (HSA) were doing a joint project piloting a 6 week  intro to person centred planning and were looking for families to participate. I joined a small group of 8 parents who were gathered gingerly in the back room of a local pub. We knew of each other in passing at parents’ evenings or school fetes but each you could see was on their own island. An isolation that had been caused by the process of service pathways, separating us from our mainstream peers, each other and our community.

When we were asked to introduce ourselves we were “Greg’s Mum, Sarah’s Mother..” we could talk for hours about them..

.. but  all of us were like rabbits in headlights when asked to talk about ourselves!

Think about it for a moment.. We had all spent year after year reliving our child’s experiences and  repeating our child’s life history for services. There wasn’t anything we didn’t know about our child. We had invested so much that it was as though we had taken on their identity!

This role left no time to be a wife, a daughter , a friend. There was no room in our preoccupied short term memory to store our own memories that we had had a life and aspirations for ourselves and our family before this.

We were taken on a personal journey that for some was quite emotional but most importantly for all, liberating.

As we talked over the weeks we realised  the way in which systems of support within services were set up, had gradually deskilled us and the ownership of  ‘any future’ we might get, now belonged to services

The aim of the course was to introduce us to some person centred planning tools and how we could use them to gain back some of that control and determine our own future  outcomes for our  family

In order to do this for our children, the facilitator wanted us to look at ourselves first. Enable us to see ourselves as individuals.  We were asked to write our own one-page profile. Believe me when I tell you – it was like pulling teeth!

It was as though we had all ‘archived’ that part of us in order not to get distracted from our advocacy role by our own hopes and dreams and also, if I’m honest, to protect ourselves from continuous disappointment when our personal goals  were constantly sacrificed.

We were all so exhausted by the system  that we had forgotten the many skills and assets we had and it was very rewarding to recall and record them.

We all left this project changed people.

For some it was an awakening to a lost identity inside themselves but most importantly it helped us all to separate ourselves from our child, enabling us to step back and allowing them to build their own.

Having a one-page profile for myself helped me to find a healthier caring/ life balance. It gave me back perspective, this in turn gave me renewed strength and purpose to work towards my own goals as well as those of my sons

Up until now I had not even thought there was a future for my son. Now I realised that not having a plan for him and constantly reliving his past whilst working with services, meant he was unable to move on as I (his identity) was risk averse and stuck in the past.

Whereas before I could not see the wood for the trees, with clear positive statements within our one-page profiles, I would see solutions instead of problems. I now saw services around my son as ‘tools and resources’ to achieve his aspirations. The one-page profile was the guide that his supporters could use along with his 247grid which I used to map his progress and where he still needed extra support. At last we felt more in control as a family.

My son’s one-page profile also supported me to have a better conversation with schools who began to see me as a partner.  We were at last  ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’ (page 37)

I truly believe being introduced to one-page profiles changed my life and the continuing life journey we took as a family to achieve what we have to day.

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.