Who decides a child’s potential? 4 benefits to using one-page profiles in School

Cathy Higgins

Cathy Higgins

Written by guest blogger Cathy Higgins, Head teacher at Oxley Park Academy

I’ve always found it strange when people talk about a child reaching their full potential. What is their full potential and who exactly decided it? It strikes me that by identifying this invisible finishing line and then pushing a child right up to it and nothing more, we are seriously underestimating what is possible.

I’ve worked in education for 30 years and have been Head Teacher three times. In 2005 I was appointed to Oxley Park Academy before it had even been built and was fortunate enough to take Headship at a time when I could influence its shape from the bottom up; quite literally – I was on site with a hard hat helping design something wonderful for our community!

When we opened in October that year, we had 100 pupils. We now have 550 and a waiting list but our size isn’t the only thing that has changed. In July 2011 we converted to academy status. We are still a state school but rather than taking direction from our local authority, we are funded centrally which means we have the freedom to develop the curriculum and to allocate money to the areas that we know supports our pupils, staff and community best.  In short, it has allowed us to be more person-centred and using one-page profiles with all 550 of our pupils is one of the ways that we do this.

In September 2011 we employed two people to drive forward our approach to personalisation. We don’t have Special Educational Needs teachers here at the school because we see every child as having individual requirements and we firmly believe that by adopting person-centred practices within our school’s culture, we can support and teach each child well.

One-page profiles celebrate the individual gifts and talents of our pupils. They also capture the essential information about what is important to and for each child and it is this that enables us to support and encourage them far beyond any pre-determined potential.  The profiles are stored in each classroom and electronically. They are added to continuously and redeveloped in full as pupils move to the next year group. Being able to dedicate time and resource into embedding these types of person-centred thinking practices into our school’s culture has been one of the most powerful outcomes of our academy status. The benefits for our pupils, teachers, parents and community (after all – each and every empowered child will be taking these values with them for the rest of their life) as a whole are magnificent.

Here are the four main benefits we have experienced by using one-page profiles:

1)      Better Understanding: To be truly person-centred we have to treat every child as unique, special and with unquantifiable potential. One-page profiles encourage pupils to think about what is important to them and empowers them to tell us how we can support them best.  The ‘what people like and admire about me’ section is exclusive to each child and encourages us (parents, teachers and classmates) to celebrate their individual skills and gifts.

2)      Better relationships: Children can often act differently at home and at school and by bringing parents and teachers together through a child’s one-page profile we can improve our understanding of them and support them better. The pupils themselves have learnt to celebrate their individuality and support each other, forming better and more positive working relationships with their peers and teachers.

3)      Good education: We believe every child has the right to a good education. A one-page profile highlights how we can support a child to learn well. It might lead us to use special equipment to aid with maths or communication or it might be as simple as encouraging them to ask questions or ensuring they have somewhere quiet to sit and concentrate. Whatever the profile identifies we are able to respond.

4)      Reflection: Both pupils and teachers have reflection time at Oxley Park Academy. We see this as vital for learning and progression as well as good mental health and wellbeing.  The profiles helped us to identify the need for this time (highlighted as something that is important) but they are also a tool that we reflect upon.

 

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One-page profiles in end of life support

How person-centred thinking tools like one-page profiles can help people get the right support at the end of their life whilst helping family, friends and professionals through the journey.

Stephen's one-page profile

Stephen’s one-page profile

Written by Tracy Meyerhoff

Sixty-two year old Stephen lived in Karelia Court, a home run by Hull City Council which specialises in supporting people with autism. Stephen’s autism affected his communication and interaction with people but despite this he was able to express his wishes clearly and choose his own support using person-centred thinking tools, something that Hull City Council has been introducing across their adult social services.

Staff at Karelia Court were committed to supporting Stephen in the way he wished, and so used a one-page profile to help record what was important to him and how best to support him. To assist the team in this staff received a training programme and introduced a series of support structures that helped change the culture of Karelia Court, putting person-centred thinking at the forefront of their support. This was reflected in the way staff and residents interacted with each other as well as in paperwork and care planning.

For Stephen, it meant that he was able to live life the way he chose whilst receiving the support he needed. This approach became all the more important when in 2011 Stephen was diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer. As a man with autism, routine and familiarity were very important to him, and his diagnosis meant that he was going to experience a number of changes and come into contact with lots more professionals involved in his care.

Following discussions between family, carers, clinicians, and Stephen, palliative care was felt to be the most appropriate treatment. For staff at Karelia Court, this meant ensuring that their values of providing person-centred care continued and that the new people that would become involved in Stephen’s support used his one-page profile to understand him and how best to support him.

Stephen remained at Karelia Court and received some in-patient care at Dove House Hospice.  This reduced the chances of Stephen having to make unnecessary hospital admissions, which would have caused him additional distress. It also meant that staff were able to work together, Karelia Court sharing their knowledge of autism and Dove House Hospice, end of life care. Most importantly though, it meant that Stephen’s person-centred support continued and one of his dreams was realised when he met Hull City Football Club players after staff at the Hospice read that he was an avid supporter in his ‘If I could, I would’ statement; one of the person-centred thinking tools used at Karelia Court.

Sadly Stephen’s condition worsened and he passed away in January 2012 but the person-centred support he received from teams at Karelia Court and Dove House Hospice never faltered. The visits from friends and family that he had expressed as being so important to him meant that he passed peacefully with his loved ones by his side.

Since Stephen’s death, all the organisations involved have come together to reflect on what happened and to ensure that care for other supported people at the end of their life is always of a high quality. By keeping Stephen at the heart of all planning, sharing information and constantly talking to Stephen about what he wanted and needed, he was able to make decisions about his care right the way through, even planning where he wanted to be at the end of his life. It meant that his brother and sister were able to spend time with him without worrying about the practical elements of his care, that medical staff and support workers were confident that they were acting in his best interests, and that Stephen himself was comfortable throughout. Reflecting on the support Stephen received and how he was at the end of his life, his brother said; “If my death is half as good as Stephen’s was, then I would be happy.”

Talking about the benefits that person-centred care had on Stephen and how tools like one-page profiles could help others, Tracy Meyerhoff, Assistant Head of Adult Services (Hull City Council) said; “We realised through working with Stephen that it was the simple things that mattered to him, and for him good care meant providing seamless support and knowing him well.

“We have new ways of working, and we recognise person-centred thinking tools for the positive impact they can have. They help to ensure that the person is not lost in a chaotic and confusing time, and that they continue to influence decisions throughout their medical journey.”

There is an end of life personalisation checklist and guidance book available for free download as part of the Progress for Provider series.

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.

You know me so well!

Written by Victoria Metcalfe, Dementia Consultant, Anchor

Victoria Metcalfe

Victoria Metcalfe

I had a birthday this week. It was one with a zero in it… I sat nervously in my living room all day, responding to birthday well-wishers by text and email, dreading the possibility that one of my nearest and dearest might have had the bright idea of throwing me a surprise party. I hate surprises. I love surprising other people – but I’m awful at being taken by surprise. Thankfully, this message must have trickled through somehow and it seems I needn’t have worried; my friends know me well!

Knowing someone well is the focus of a big piece of work I’m involved in at the moment. I’m a Dementia Consultant working for Anchor and we have been looking at how one-page profiles can be used to ensure that the people that live and work in a care home can really know and understand each other well. One-page profiles do much more than this of course. They help people with common interests and outlooks be matched together, they communicate important information for people who might not be able to communicate it themselves, they empower people to direct their own support and live the life they choose, but ‘knowing someone well’ really is at the heart of the concept.

Over 25 years ago I had a chance encounter with a young man who had Alzheimer’s . He changed my outlook on life. I can clearly remember to this day my first meeting with him and how distressed he seemed about being unable to communicate with the people around him.  I remember those same people equally as clearly and how little they were attempting to engage and understand him. They saw him as a bunch of symptoms not a person and it was incredibly sad to realise.  My overriding feeling about this was one of injustice and it is the injustice of people being marginalised or defined by their illness that still motivates me today to be person-centred in everything I do; to have empathy, compassion and most importantly of all, to care about knowing people well and basing support on this in-depth knowledge of them.

I’ve never had a planned career path – it just wasn’t something that I set out for myself. But I’ve been working with people with dementia for more than 25 years now, with social services, with the Alzheimer’s Society and for the last 13 years with Anchor. I knew when I joined Anchor that I agreed with and believed in their organisational values but it is the people I work with and their relationships with the people we support and their families that has made this job so worthwhile for me.

Anchor is the largest not-for profit provider of support and housing for people over the age of 55 in England but that’s not what makes us special. We are special because we believe in seeing and treating people as individuals. We provide person-centred care and moreover we want to improve on this further, embedding person-centred thinking deep into the culture of our organisation by making tools like one-page profiles commonplace for colleagues and customers.  We believe in doing with a person not doing for them. In supporting family and friends to adapt to a person’s changing abilities and always focusing on what they can do not what they can’t do. In a world that can see older adults as broken people, our celebration of people’s individual talents and gifts and determination to support them to live the life they choice is something I’m really proud to be a part of.

My own one-page profile describes what people like and admire about me, what is important to me and how best to support me. Needless to say I have included in it that I don’t like surprises – something which my friends might know about me but might be useful for a work colleague to know too. I’ve already changed my approach to team members after reading their profiles and understanding them better. It’s strange, you can work with someone for years and think you know them so well only to learn important information that you just hadn’t uncovered before – this is the power of the one-page profile; the succinct way it communicates the essential information to enable relationships, collaborative working and support.

This week I’m attending the annual Dementia Congress. I’ve spoke most years but this time I’m going just to soak up the information, to learn about the new and innovative ways people are transforming care for people with dementia, to meet colleagues and share best practice. I’ll be shouting from the roof tops about one-page profiles and how this relatively untapped resource could revolutionise care for people with dementia. I believe that the one-page profiles that we are introducing in Anchor really will change people’s lives;  helping people with dementia live a life that makes sense to them in the way that they want and all based on a deep understanding of who someone is and what is important to them. Everyone should be able to say ‘you know me so well’ and soon they will!

Look around the rest of this site using the menu bar at the top of this page to learn more about one-page profiles, how to create your own and to read stories from people using them from birth to end of life.

Enhancing relationships between families and providers

By sharing her one-page profile with her brother’s support provider, Liz is able to concentrate on being a sister not a carer.  An example of how one-page profiles can improve communication and enhance relationships between families and providers.

Written by Liz Wilson

liz and tommyI am passionate about person-centred ways of working which I have used in my professional and personal life for over a decade now.  My brother and daughter both have Downs Syndrome.  Sarah Jane has grown up with the values of inclusion and person-centred thinking.  Tommy has had a very different life but a move to supported living last year has opened up his world.

About six months ago a new service provider took over Tommy’s contract.  I had been very engaged with the previous provider and began to feel quite cut out of his daily life.  I work full time and can rarely answer a call during typical working hours.  I found it very frustrating to have ‘missed calls’ with no messages or indication of urgency and worried that staff would think I didn’t care.  I am a Family Consultant at a social care provider, Dimensions, where staff share their one-page profiles with families. Working there and seeing the benefit, I realised how valuable it would be for families to share one-page profiles too.  We started doing this within Dimensions and I took the idea to my brother’s provider.  I wanted communication to be constructive and effective, and for people to value my involvement.

I sat down one evening and created a one-page profile for ‘partnership working and fluid communication.’ The profile is about supporting family relationships so I included things that build connections.

To begin with I shared the one-page profile at a review meeting and staff really appreciated knowing a bit more about me and my busy lifestyle.  I gave a copy to the regional manager as well.  I can easily tell the members of staff who have seen and read the profile and those who haven’t.  I keep a copy on the notice board by my desk at home and I jot down the new things I learn.  I plan to give an updated and visually different copy to the team every six months.  I’m going to stick the next one inside Tommy’s wardrobe door as a daily reminder for staff.

Sarah Jane and Tommy often have conflicting needs so a member of staff always supports our time together.  Support staff don’t often co-work with family members and many were uncomfortable with hanging out at home or on family trips.  Now we have a delightful balance of professionalism and friendliness which is much more relaxing.  Niece and uncle have strengthened their relationship because their conflict of interests has been minimised and I can be mum and sister not mediator!

I have high expectations about the quality of support and communication between families and services, and quite rightly so.  However, having my values and needs expressed on a one-page profile enables me to clarify my expectations. When people know what I want and expect they are more likely to give it – and if I haven’t been clear I can change the profile instead of getting frustrated and coming across as a nag.  I now get text messages that are much easier to respond to in a quick break, and voicemail helps me sort the rare urgent issues from those that can wait a day or two.  It is really lovely that Tommy now initiates visits with support from staff and I get good news, not just issues to deal with. When I make suggestions about ways of working or activities to try they are taken as offerings from a partner.  Tommy is more relaxed when we are all together.  He doesn’t use verbal communication but he picks up on tension so I can tell he appreciates the new relationships as much as I do.

Since sharing the one-page profile with the people who support Tommy daily I feel like things are more straightforward.  I would strongly recommend it as a way of enhancing the relationships between families and providers. I love that my views are being sought on things that are important to Tommy.  My role has undergone a transformation too, I feel like I can be a more ordinary sister alongside managing his personal budget and finances.