One-page profiles in pregnancy

An example of how this woman used a one-page profile in pregnancy to help her communicate well and direct her own support. This is the story of the one-page profile Rowan created two years ago whilst pregnant with her first daughter

Written by Rowan Hall

Rowan's one-page profile

Rowan’s one-page profile

Today, Helen and I wrote my one-page profile, something Helen will use to understand me in our person-centred journey and importantly, a way of really getting me to think  about who I am, what is important to me and  what I need in terms of support. This might sound like a bit of an odd thing to do, especially if you are someone who is fairly confident that they understand themselves (as I was) but it wasn’t until I really started hammering down on some of the points, that I realised that actually the things that are important to me sometimes conflict with my self-image. For example; I’d like to think I am independent and self-reliant and yet when I started writing down how I spend my time, what makes me happy and who is in my circle of support, it would appear that I require babysitting by friends 95% of the time!

Ok, maybe babysitting is a little harsh but I pretty much seem to need to talk to my friends non stop either by email, phone or in person throughout the day. I do of course break to work, cycle, sleep and spend some time with Jon but other than that, I can keep my conversations going through meals, shopping expeditions – even in the bath. This might not seem like an  important revelation in the great scheme of things but in noting it, I have realised that it is something that is very likely to change once our baby is born. I need to think about how I can continue to feel the support that I get from these relationships with my close friends when I will undoubtedly have less time to dedicate to them.

Something else I became aware off when working through the one-page profile  was  that delivering our baby at home (being one of the two options currently available to me , the other being in hospital), might not be the best choice. It is possibly too early to come to this conclusion and I am sure there is much more to explore with Helen before we complete my person-centred birthing plan but I am conscious that some of the things that I have listed as important to me involve my home and are not necessarily conducive with a relaxed birthing environment. For example, I currently have a noisy neighbour who insists on playing rave music into the early hours. Imagine labour but instead of a chill out mix tape (complete with the essential Massive Attack’s Teardrop track) playing soothingly in the background, you are confronted with  repetitive base beats vibrating through the floor boards. On the flip side, the idea of a home birth appeals because I think it would be more of a shared experience with my partner (again something that I have noted as important to me) – who won’t be sent home to sleep once the baby is born or have to leave us to get changed or eat as he would if I was in hospital. Lots to think about.

My one-page profile set’s out what is important to me now and how best to support me. I will use it in pregnancy and plan to create another to use in birth.

You can read more about one-page profiles in pregnancy and other person-centred thinking tools from the Pregnancy Parenting and Personalisation website.

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Providing the best support because you are well matched; How Learning Disability Support Workers use one-page profiles

An example of how by introducing one-page profiles, this social care provider was not only able to improve the working experience for their staff, but form better, more cohesive teams and match individuals to each other, providing person-centred support.

Support Worker Marie's one-page profile

Support Worker Marie’s one-page profile

Written by Dimensions

Marie works for Dimensions. She is a member of a team that supports people with learning disabilities. In particular, she supports Denise who she knows very well, and with whom she is well matched. She is fun and active, yet likes to work in a very organised environment with a clear idea of what is expected of her. 

Marie developed her one-page profile for two main reasons. To help her fellow team members get to know her and her approach to work. And to help the matching process between herself and the individuals she supports. She talked to friends, family and colleagues to capture the things that people like and admire about her.

Marie has always considered herself a team player and loves her job. Her frustrations used to come from not always knowing her place in the group and uncertainly over where and how she could be most productive and utilise her most effective skills.

Marie’s whole team completed their one-page profiles together. They then took time to share them and used the information to discuss which roles each team member would flourish in. They also opened up about how best to support each other. This process helped Marie significantly. She felt she could take on work with confidence and communication with team members made sense and was constructive.

The biggest benefit was that support workers were matched to the person they had most chance of developing a positive relationship with, and therefore providing the best support. Using one-page profiles not only arranged things so that Marie was supporting people she was best matched to, the whole team was clear about why and how best to support it to happen – a great way to build and maintain great, person-centred teams.

Marie’s frustrations have disappeared. The content of her one-page profile has been useful and productive, and this has been a benefit for the whole team, and – most importantly – for people the team support.

 

The cornerstone of being a person-centred organisation

An example of how one-page profiles have improved communication, daily interactions and strengthened relationships in this working environment. Tony Pearson describes one-page profiles as the cornerstone of being a person-centred organisation.

TonyWritten by Tony Pearson

Following a 20 year career in the public sector, in which I was a manager in both the NHS and in Local Government, I joined Real Life Options in November 2009. I am a member of the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM) and of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

As the Director of Human Resources and acting Director of Operations, making sure that colleagues feel valued and part of the wider organisation is an area of upmost importance. Recognising people as individuals, acknowledging their skills and strengths and supporting any areas for development are key to an engaged workforce. If our staff are happy, they will provide support to the best of their abilities. One-page profiles are a really good way to demonstrate person-centred values.

I gave my one-page profile a great deal of consideration before getting anything down on paper. At first it can feel slightly alien to be considering your strengths and the best ways in which others can support you. As a Director it has been a great opportunity to let others in on details that might seem insignificant but are actually quite important, for example my preference for face to face contact over emails or telephone conversations, and that it’s ok and actually appreciated when people remind me of deadlines. The section that addresses what people like and admire about me was gathered during an exercise in a Head Office meeting where we all worked together to develop our first one-page profiles.

My profile is displayed on the wall at all the regional offices, so that colleagues from all parts of the organisation can familiarise themselves with what I am about. I use mine to send out to people prior to a meeting, this is especially useful in situations where we may be meeting for the first time – It always gets a positive response.

Having a one-page profile has made a substantial difference in my every day interactions. It stands to reason that if you communicate what is important to you, who you are and what support you need that interaction becomes easier, and relationships are improved and strengthened. It is also good to have an opportunity to let people in to a little about your personal life. I mention my family on my one-page profile as they are very important to me.

On an organisation-wide scale as well as personally, one-page profiles have influenced the way in which people interact and communicate with each other.  It’s the cornerstone of being a person-centred organisation as you need to know these kind of details about others from the outset in order to be able to be supportive and treat people as individuals, respecting their needs and viewpoint.

Championing change

Written by mum, Kate

Kate

Kate

I have three children. My youngest boy is 6, a middle girl who is 10 and my eldest Alfie who is 13. All my children have one-page profiles and all for different reasons but it was because of Alfie, who has Down’s Syndrome and is on the Autistic Spectrum that I first heard about them and their powerful ability to communicate, advocate, and direct support.

I live with my family in rural east Suffolk by the coast. It is beautifully scenic and there are some wonderful things about our community that I wouldn’t change a bit.  However, and I don’t feel too bad in saying this, we are not exactly cutting edge in the learning disability and autism support world.  I go elsewhere in the country and person-centred practices have been high on the agenda for some time. Where I am, people still frown and squint slightly the first time they hear the term. Not to say that they are not open to it or indeed all-embracing of the opportunities that come from person-centred tools, they just don’t know about it. I’m hoping that I can help change this and therefore change the community that Alfie will live in so that he has a happy and fulfilled life and a future that we can all look forward to.

Up until Alfie was 9 years old he attended a mainstream School. It had felt important that Alfie was given the same opportunities as everyone else and at the time we thought that sending him to the same place as everyone else would ensure this. It didn’t. The school were not equipped to support Alfie well. Out of the 5 teachers he had during his time there only 2 tailored their lessons for Alfie’s Support Assistant to teach him one-to-one. Because of their lack of understanding of who Alfie was and what he needed, rather than being included, we found that he was being excluded and gradually becoming more and more isolated from his peers. It reached a point where he wasn’t allowed to touch or play with anyone –  Hardly the best thing for a young boy’s confidence and social skills.

We felt that our only other option was a special school for children with moderate learning disabilities. We knew at least here that Alfie would be with people who understood about his specific needs and would encourage and teach the social aspect of school as well as support him in his learning. In many ways this new environment has been better for Alfie.  Now that he is older, his lessons are just 45 minutes long and then he gets to walk to the next class – this type of structure, scheduling and activity is very good for him. Sadly though, despite this being a school designed for children with different support needs I still feel they are lacking in their approach and certainly not at the point where they could be described as personalising the support or the education they offer their pupils.

Alfie is fluent in Makaton but chooses not to use it. He communicates mainly through behaviour and for the school ‘behaviour’ seems to equal ‘bad behaviour’. I regularly get notes about ‘incidents’ that Alfie is involved in – usually relating to him being over familiar with another pupil, hugging them too tightly, or holding on to their earlobes (he gets a great deal of comfort from earlobes). I never hear about the why? What led up to the behaviour? How he was in himself immediately before or after? What can be understood about what he might need from how he has acted?  I just hear about the what. To me this shows a real lack of understanding about Alfie, who he is, what is important to him and what good support looks like (all the things that are recorded on a one-page profile).

I’ve recently started to co-facilitate the ‘Better Life Programme’ – an 8 session  training course for families to introduce them to person-centred thinking tools, what personalisation actually means and how to access things like personal budgets and support from Local Authorities. It is a course that I myself attended and it changed my world. Alfie’s school has given us permission to use their building to deliver this to parents. It is my hope that the learning will spill out into the corridors and become absorbed by the foundations of the school (or maybe that the head teacher will sit in on a session and take something away from it) and this will lead to change.

When Alfie was younger I thought we had to fit him into the world that already exists. I now know that it is the world, our communities, schools, places or work, people’s perceptions that need to change to fit in with him and all the rest of our children. I give Alfie’s one-page profile to people because I know that if they read it they will understand him better, be able to make  a few small adjustments and this will automatically improve their experience and time with him. Alfie’s school were very positive about his profile when I first introduced it and I strongly believe that if they learnt more about this approach and adopted it for more of their pupils it would change the way they support and teach because they would see and understand each child for the unique individual that they are.

Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.

Chief Exec advocates one-page profiles

An example of why this Chief Executive advocates the use of one-page profiles throughout his entire staff team and the people they support. Brian Hutchinson has had personal successes with his profile too, believing that sharing it aids better understanding, first impressions and relationships. 

Brian Hutchinson's one-page profile

Brian Hutchinson’s one-page profile

Written By Brian Hutchinson, Chief Executive of Real Life Options

I’ve worked in community based learning disability services for 20 years; primarily with people who have a diagnosis of autism, or with people who have a formal or informal forensic history and I’ve been working for Real Life Options for 11 years now.

From my perspective as Chief Executive the purpose of introducing one-page profiles into the organisation was twofold. Firstly it was a way for the people we support to communicate what they are about and what is important to them. This works well between the person and support workers but also in the wider community. Secondly, and from an internal perspective, when used with staff it helps embed our person-centered ethos into the culture from the get go. It’s one of the first things that new members of staff do when they come to work for Real Life Options.

I was among the first to produce my one-page profile and it is displayed on the wall at each of our office buildings. I send it out prior to meetings with new people. We take part in a lot of cooperative work with similar organisations to share best practice, it really helps to break the ice in a situation where lots of new faces gather together to discuss issues that can be challenging.  I thought it was important to be very honest when producing my own one-page profile as personally I feel it’s worthless if it doesn’t reflect who you are as a person and how you work.

I believe that using one-page profiles throughout Real Life Options has helped people we support and members of staff to really understand the core of person-centered values. When you begin by examining yourself and your own traits, needs and values it’s then much easier to transfer this way of thinking into the work that you do. On a personal note it has helped me to avoid misunderstandings that might cause tension. For example, my profile tells people that my leg shakes during meetings when I’m interested, it has in the past been misconstrued as irritation or unease. It’s good to get these things out there and avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings.

Having a one-page profile has definitely made a difference to my initial encounters with new people. It’s a great way to begin a new relationship and reflects the honest, open and genuine way in which we operate at Real Life Options.