One-Page profiles; ‘How things are done at Dimensions’

Written by Dimensions UK Chief Executive, Steve Scown

Steve Scown

Steve Scown

As someone who believes firmly in leading by example, I developed my one-page profile some time ago and asked my colleagues to help me. By engaging with them in this way I had to think more deeply than I had before about what I needed from the people around me and about what was really important for me, as opposed to a long nice-to-have list.

At Dimensions we have been working towards becoming a more person-centred organisation for a number of years. As one of the leading not-for-profit providers of care and support services, we have recognised the responsibility upon us not to only provide person centred services for the people with learning disabilities and autism we support, but also to share our learning across our sector and other industries. One-page profiles have proved to be an incredibly powerful tool in helping us fulfil both of these aspirations.

My own introduction to one page profiles came as a result of our work with Helen Sanderson Associates and their potential use across many aspects of our business was soon evident.

After I had completed my profile, it was posted on our website  along with profiles for our executive team and members of our board.  I have been struck by the number of companies who have remarked how useful these were in helping them understand how to engage more effectively with us as individuals and as a company. Recently a team of legal advisors bidding for our contract came along to the interview with their own one page profiles as a result of seeing ours on our website.

We have since this initial phase begun to use them right across the business as well as embedding them as a critical tool in how we support people. In short they have become recognisable as part of ‘how things are done in Dimensions’.

In our services they have enabled us to link people with similar interests. After all when being helped to bake a cake, it’s a much nicer to be supported by someone who loves cooking and baking as opposed to someone like me who regularly burns toast and whose passion is rugby.

In addition to their use in services we have more recently strived to get one-page profiles embedded in our business support departments. Visitors to our offices will find a file with the profiles of people who work in that office – this has helped people break the ice when meeting someone for the first time. Attaching links to profiles on our e-mail footers has also helped remotely based staff feel more conformable phoning people they haven’t met who work in our centrally based teams rather sending the usual e-mail query. Many of our business support teams have developed team profiles to help others understand ‘what makes them tick’.

As with most things that require a change in behaviour (individual or corporate) and which brings about material benefits it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Some people have had concerns re sharing personal information. I think the key here has been to help people remember they are in control of the information they share and that the aim is to help people connect more easily with them. In such busy times it’s also easy to see these as a task that once it’s done is done. Our learning has been that they are more effective when they are alive and are updated as we grow and develop as individuals as opposed to something you create once and file away.

I think the introduction and embedding of one page profiles has made a really positive impact upon how we work and our organisational culture . But, I don’t think we’ve finished yet – looking ahead we will continue to think and develop new ways of using them. Already we’re thinking of how we could embed them as a key part of our recruitment process and I can see us asking families to complete a profile so our staff can better understand what is important for them and how we can better connect.

So if you’ve got any ideas on how we can use them or would like to know more about our journey please feel free to leave a comment on this blog or contact us directly.


Inductions, introductions and ice-breakers

An example of how sharing one-page profiles can help break the ice and connect people in the workplace.

Stella's one-page profile

Stella’s one-page profile

Written by Dimensions

Stella Cheetham is Executive Director of HR at Dimensions. She was appointed in 2011 and is responsible for making Dimensions an employer of choice and ensuring that our staff receive the training and help they need to provide the best possible services to the people we support.

Dimensions employ 5000 people and everyone writes their own one-page profile as part of the induction process. Staff are encouraged to include them in their e-mail signature footers so they can easily be shared. The Senior Management Team have their profiles on the Dimensions website, and use them in a variety of ways including preparing for meetings with staff, people we support, families and commissioners.

When Stella joined Dimensions, she had not used person-centred thinking tools before but quickly saw the benefit in creating her own one-page profile. She spoke with family, friends and colleagues in order to identify what people like and admire about her. She reflected on what is important to her, and for her, in order to complete these sections.

Stella’s one-page profile is shared widely with people we support, staff and other stakeholders. Stella believes that by sharing her profile before meeting people for the first time it has helped break the ice.

Last year, Stella took over direct management of a team and whilst at a team event sat next to an administrator who had read her one-page profile. In doing so she realised that they both loved the same band. Stella observed “I could have talked all day with this person, and not necessarily realised that we liked the same music, but because of our profiles, straight away we had something in common. By sharing our one-page profiles across the whole team it has helped us all feel more connected.”

The one-page profiles can help initiate conversations at larger events too. Dimensions Senior Management Team visit each of our operational regions yearly for a Forum with people we support and staff. The one-page profiles are shared beforehand, and at one such event, a person we support approached Stella because they had liked her picture and profile and were interested to ask questions about it.

Stella has found the one-page profiles an excellent way of introducing people to each other in preparation for meetings, but also in seeing the whole person, and understanding more about how a person likes to work, and therefore how to support them to achieve this.

Team work – making it work!

An example of how one-page profiles can be developed for teams as well as individuals and how by using them, people within the team share a sense of common purpose, celebrating what they are good at and recognising what is important to them as a collective.

East Berkshire one-page profile

East Berkshire one-page profile

Written by Dimensions

The East Berkshire region is one of support provider Dimensions’ operational regions, covering the areas of Wokingham & Bracknell. Around 200 people are supported within this region, in a range of different settings, and there are over 350 members of staff.

Although each individual member of staff and person supported has their own one-page profile, as part of Dimensions Personalisation Journey, the regional management team wanted to develop a profile which reflected the team as a whole. This has been shared as part of the roll-out of our personalisation journey.

The profile was developed by one of the Assistant Operations Directors who used ideas and thoughts captured at a regional management meeting, as well as asking others who work with the team internally and externally.

The ’East Berks one-page profile’ has been shared with managers and staff teams throughout the region. People we support, and other internal and external stakeholders have seen the profile. Following on from the regional profile, a number of individual staff teams have created their own team profiles as well.

The regional one-page profile has helped the staff recognise their strengths and achievements, and acknowledge what is important to them on a collective basis. It has given the whole region a sense of their identity and enabled them to share this with others.

Developing the profile has helped the staff team feel connected to what they are trying to achieve, and to recognise what it important to them. It has supported the personalisation journey, as staff can connect up individual profiles to team profiles and to the regional profile, creating a sense of shared purpose and understanding, as well as celebrating things that we feel we are good at.

My profile evolves with me

An example of how people use one-page profiles in the workplace to help build effective and harmonious working relationships. Steve’s story also highlights how one-page profiles work best when they continually evolve with a person.

Steve's one-page profile

Steve’s one-page profile

Written by Dimensions

Steve Inch is the co-chair of Dimensions Council. He retired from his role as Dimensions’ Deputy Chief Executive in 2012 and now spends some of his own time working to develop Dimensions’ involvement strategy.

The Dimensions Council is a representative body of the people Dimensions’ support, and brings important issues to the Board’s attention twice a year.

Whilst at Dimensions Steve was introduced to one-page profiles and created one with his friends, family and work colleagues past and present. In the section where people describe what they like and admire about Steve, his calm, fair and considerate nature is highlighted; something that helps put the people that work alongside him at ease.

Steve’s one-page profile has been used to introduce him to the members of Dimensions Council, particularly those that have not worked with him before. Is was important that he found ways to help people understand his work-style as well as his general approach to people and life, so Council members could work with him effectively and harmoniously.

Steve has shared his one-page profile with all the Dimensions Council members. He has also shared and reinforced elements of it within Council meetings and everyone has had opportunity to read it carefully in their own time, in fact all Council members have a one-page profile and they are all shared across the entire membership.

Steve keeps his one-page profile up-to-date by reviewing it in his own time when reflecting on his learning from both his work and life experiences. If ever his one-page profile is updated he shares this with his co-chair and the Council membership so that it continues to evolve with him.

The first Social Care provider in Scotland to commit to one-page profiles; How they did it

Written by Karen Pratt

CEO Karen Pratt

CEO Karen Pratt

My background is commercial. I worked in hospitality for many years and my last role was as National Business Director for a private healthcare company.  I’m used to sitting on boards where decisions were almost always profit focused and things happened quickly because little red tape stood in our way. My move into Social Care three years ago was a bit of a culture shock but not as much as you might imagine. I am CEO of an adult learning disability support provider in North East Scotland. Inspires, support around 300 people in their own homes, in housing, employment and training. We employ over 500 staff and our vision is to empower people’s life choices

Because of a shift in the way support providers are expected to deliver services, can achieve funding and need to interact with customers, there has been a big change in the way organisations like ours operate. Whereas before providers often negotiated bulk contracts with local authorities to provide support services, we now operate in a market that puts the end customer much more firmly in the driving seat. We now need to speak to people face-to-face, find out what an individual wants and needs and tailor our service to meet their needs. Self directed support is only just filtering through in Scotland, and we are still some way behind England in terms of implementation but it is the future and as such it has very much changed the way we operate in the here and now.

People aren’t always comfortable with the concept of marrying commercial business principles with social care. It can feel a little cold and technical to discuss business models, profit and loss, forecast and projections in relation to services that have traditionally been described as third sector, charities or non-profit making. The truth is though, all organisations have to generate funds in order to operate. One of my jobs as CEO has been to ensure that the team believe in generating profits; not so that some shareholder somewhere can benefit, but so that we can allocate money into having the very best staff with the very best training, delivering exceptional services.

When I consider how much the third sector has changed in recent years, my move from commercial business to social care feels far less dramatic. I have always been customer focused and whereas before we support providers might have provided a one-size-fits-all model, now we work hard to find out about the individual, what they want, need, what their budget is, what their aspirations are for the future, what is important to them; we develop a support package that works with them to achieve this.

I’m always looking at new ways to improve our services for the people we support and to ensure that we are providing our staff teams with the very best experience. When one of our Directors first told me about one-page profiles I was keen to learn more. We learnt from social care provider, Dimensions, that profiles can help people direct their own support, match people working together, build better relationships and make good introductions. Dimensions has introduced profiles across all staff and people they support and have been fundamental in us rolling out the practice within Inspire.

I strongly believe that one-page profiles will help us to deliver person-centred support to our customers.  The profile itself is a simple and succinct tool that communicates what people like and admire about a person, what is important to someone and how to support them well. By using it within our teams we can be sure that we’re supporting staff, celebrating their gifts and understanding them well. By using it with people we support we can understand and appreciate them as individuals, match them well with others and empower them to direct their own support.

We are in the early stages but so far all head office personnel have written one-page profiles, as have service managers. We are in the process of introducing them to more support workers and to the people we support.  This is how we are doing it:

  1. Learning from the experiences of other social care providers who have taken a similar approach to personalisation
  2. Committing internally to their use at senior management level
  3. Introducing to teams at team meeting
  4. Sharing examples of one-page profiles monthly using a team brief email so that people can learn more about each other, work better together, improve relationships and see how a profile works in practice
  5. Sharing profile templates and profile writing guidelines on the intranet
  6. Sharing team member profiles on the website for customers and family members to access.

I’m hoping by sharing this practice in this blog, other providers will see how profiles can be rolled out within their organisation. I believe that as our sector continues in its customer focused drive, tools like these will become commonplace. For now though, I think we are ahead of the game and possible the only social care organisation on Scotland to have committed to introduce one-page profiles with everyone we support and employ! Something we can be proud of.


We no-longer fear change

A practical example of how teams and organisations can use one-page profiles to build cohesiveness, person-centred attitudes and a positive attitude towards change when going through periods of transformation.

Written by Tracey Chappell Merry Hill House

Tracey Chappell from Merry Hill House one-page profile

Tracey Chappell from Merry Hill House one-page profile

I work at Merry Hill House; a Local Authority care home for older people that is currently going through a period of transformation.  The Local Authority is introducing a rolling respite service and has put a hold on accepting new people to move in permanently.

This is a change for the people living at Merry Hill House, their families and the staff. It was decided that there needed to be support tools in place to assist people with this change. One-page profiles were introduced. The aim was to support staff through this transformation by empowering them as a team and developing their individual skills and confidence to help people living there to adapt too. The profiles would also help staff better understand the people they support and help managers with the recruitment of new staff that fit well with the overall team and our ethos.

We started with staff meetings and support from consultants Helen Sanderson Associates. We looked through our existing practices to identify what was working and what was not working.  We then developed a strategy to achieve change on a single sheet of paper – this is called a one-page strategy and it really helped us to focus on our goals and how we could achieve them.

The next phase was to identify one-page profile champions who could lead each staff team to develop their own profiles.  Once the staff had completed their profiles managers used the information they provided to fit them into positive and productive teams based by matching characteristics, personalities and interests.

Once all team members knew how to create one-page profiles and how to use them for best results, we were in a position to help the people that live at Merry Hill House create their own. This then enabled support staff to be matched to individuals based on commonalities.

We have since evolved further and actually create one-page profiles with people staying with us on a short or temporary basis so that we can provide them with the best possible care whilst they are with us. It also means we have excellent information to pass on to their future care provider or at-home assistance once they are discharged.

Since using one-page profiles staff have an appreciation and clearer understanding of how the people they support want to be supported and why our traditional roles and the culture of caring for needs had to change and develop. Together we have learnt that people don’t always want to be cared for but instead want to be involved and listened to when planning their support. There is now a strong feeling shared amongst staff of wanting to drive change forward because we are seeing the benefits for ourselves.

This is a big difference from the fear of change (and holding on to the security of how things were) that used to exist within the teams. Staff are sharing experiences and learning how to have different types of conversations with the people we support by focussing on what is important to that individual rather than focusing on tasks which need to be performed.

We have learned through conversation with the people that live at Merry Hill House, to consider how our attitudes and personalities are perceived by the people we support and what kind of impact this can have on their stay with us.

Staff have all taken the opportunity to reflect on their personal qualities and not just the skills they have and the work they do which has really helped us work more collaboratively and appreciate what each and every person brings to the team.

Overall our teams are working together better and the people we support have more choice and control in their lives. It feels like we have come really far and we are excited and enthusiastic about what lies ahead.


Every Little Helps!

An excellent example of how by using a one-page profile and a team profile this professional has been able to put the staff she is supporting at ease quickly when counselling them through difficult situations. As the ‘out of hours’ telephone contact for a social care organisation Mo found she needed a tool that would help her get to know staff on a personal level quickly and for them to feel comfortable and confident in her. Her story describes how she used one-page profiles to do this.

Mo HunstoneWritten By Mo Hunstone

My name is Mo Hunstone. I am 57 years old, Mother of two and Nanna to one. I live in the Salford area of Manchester but was born in the Peak District, Derbyshire; moving away many years ago when I got married. I have worked in Health and Social Care for over thirty years and feel that it is where I definitely belong!

I have seen many cultural changes in social care over the years but none of them have excited me more than ‘Personalisation’, which I believe helps people be fully in control and self direct their own lives!  I have worked for many years for Living Ambitions, based over in Salford and have seen the organisation transformed in the last three years due to our person-centred approaches and I’m incredibly proud to be part of something that genuinely puts person-centred practices at the heart of everything we do – not just for the people we support but, just as importantly, our entire workforce. Living Ambitions fully understands that in order for supporters to deliver person-centred support, they have to feel valued and engaged.

As the organisation developed across the whole of Lancashire, I became part of a wider management team and this is when I personally recognised the importance of team one-page profiles as it really helped me to get to know the managers in other regions whom I did not have day to day contact with. And thanks to our own team’s profile, they could really get to know me too.

When I became part of my organisation’s out of hour’s emergency on-call service (meaning I am required to offer guidance to members of our workforce in other regions to support them around charged and stressful situations), I found the one-page profile an invaluable tool. I recall how hard it was trying to support and be empathetic to staff who I didn’t know very well and who were in the middle of a crisis. I found this very difficult as I don’t like to be just a voice at the end of a phone.

To remedy this, I asked those staff in other regions to complete another person-centred thinking tool called “What’s Working/Not Working” around on-call support. This identified, from their side what needed to be in place for me to give them my best support and I did the same. The outcome was that I updated my own profile and shared it with the rest of the workforce and citizens – this along with other manager’s profiles is now with the on-call numbers so there is a familiar person at the end of the phone. I am now known as Mo, not the on-call manager.

I in turn have an IPad which I am able to access support staff and citizens’ profiles on so I can really know who I am offering advice too – particularly around incident debriefs and it’s the little things such as making reference to their children or interests or telling them to go and grab that coffee with two sugars (as identified on their profiles) – that act as great ice breakers and diffuses – really supporting people coming out of charged situations. Because of this, the people I work with have told me that they feel like I actually know and value them as individuals and that they are not alone in difficult situations. This in turn leads to great workforce engagement and really promotes our person-centred culture which underpins everything we do as an organisation – helping us to stay true to our primary purpose and core values. The little things might not sound much but as Tesco puts it, “Every little helps”!

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.