First create your own, then support others to create theirs

An example of how by creating their own one-page profiles professionals can feel confident and empowered to support others in the process.

Written by Rebecca*

Rebecca's one-page profile

Rebecca’s one-page profile

I’m employed by a provider of learning, support and care for children and adults with learning disabilities. I manage two services and we encourage all members of staff and the people we support to have a one-page profile.

It is a really good way for families to know who is supporting them, and for them to get to know the kind of people employed. In the services I manage, there are often staffing changes due to the type of support provided and sometimes the support is brand new, having come from another provider. My one-page profile breaks the ice with a new family or member of staff, giving them information about me, so they see a person, not just a name or job title. This makes it much easier to communicate.

I completed my one-page profile myself, but found it difficult to think of the ‘what people like and admire about me’ section so I talked to friends, colleagues and family to ask them about what they thought. I completed it over a period of time, thinking about it in my work and personal life, to really reflect on what is important to me and the support that works well for me, which made it more comprehensive.

I use my one page-profile with my staff team and with people who I support so they can get to know me well. It was also used as an example to the people we support as the kind of thing that staff should be aiming for when helping them produce their own. Staff found it helpful to write a one-page profile for themselves before doing it with the children and young people they visit.

Producing my one-page profile helped me to think about the things in my life that are important to me and therefore helped me to think about what was important to the people I support.  Perhaps before, I might not have thought about it in that level of detail. For example, because my family are important to me, it made me realise that it was vital to include children’s families when supporting them to complete their support planning process. It was helpful for me also to see that the things in my personal life that were important to me impacted on the way I like people to work with me and support me. As a result of developing my own one-page profile I am more confident; family and friends have been proactive in helping me to think positively about myself, I feel reassured in my way of working and feel uplifted as a result. It’s increased my respect for myself and given me greater confidence in working with others.

Having a one-page profile has been really helpful, particularly in building those crucial initial relationships with the families we support. It has helped them to get to know me as a person, with specific interests and has opened up conversations helping them to feel more confident about the company. It has achieved much for the service, especially in helping other staff to complete them for themselves, and for the children and young people they support. One-page profiles are developing more throughout the service, with staff members and people we support, people are enjoying creating them and using them to get to know people better.

*names have been changed.

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.

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.

Can one-page profiles work in mental health?

Written by Sarah Carr, independent Mental Health and Social Care knowledge Consultant

Sarah carr

Sarah Carr

When I wrote my one-page profile I was thinking specifically about mental health and prevention. I reflected on what helps and hinders me and what makes me feel safe. I think my profile is a very effective tool for self-management – sometimes I lose sight of what can affect me! Because I had complete control over what is in the profile, I represented myself in a way that is true to me – I didn’t have to use a diagnosis, explain my history or fit into a category. I communicated who I am and what I need without having to label myself. In this way profiles can help with overcoming the stigma associated with psychiatric diagnosis and can challenge self-stigma. Like many people with mental health problems, I have a negative view of myself and fairly low self-worth. Here, I was especially challenged by the part where I had to think about what people appreciate and value in me, my gifts and my strengths. Although it was a hard exercise, for me it was a form of therapy. Finding good things about yourself and committing them to writing as part of a profile to be shared so you can be understood fully can be a powerful exercise for someone with low self-worth or internalised stigma. At the moment I’m using my profile to remain aware of what keeps me safe and well (and to remind me of what people value in me!) but if I should experience a crisis again I would use the profile to communicate with mental health practitioners and as a way to aid my recovery – that is recovering my life and self.

As an independent mental health and social care knowledge consultant, my lived experience of mental distress and service-use informs my work. I really wanted to join the conversation about one-page profiles on this blog site because I believe they have the potential to address many of the difficulties that people who experience mental distress or use mental health services often encounter.

One-page profiles in a mental health crisis

If someone is using mental health services a one-page profile can be a powerful way to communicate and maintain their personhood in what can often be a dehumanising, medicalised system. For someone who finds themselves in crisis and is admitted into hospital, a profile can be a very effective way of communicating who they are and what good support looks like at a time when they might not have the capacity or opportunity to do so in any other way. Many people who have been patients in psychiatric hospitals say that they felt reduced to their symptoms or diagnosis and weren’t understood as whole people with interests, strengths, talents and preferences. We now know how detrimental this can be and clinical guidelines are in place to emphasise the person-centred, human elements of mental health support such as empathy, optimism, dignity, respect, support for self-management, emotional support, being known and having appropriate activities. A one-page profile, written by the person when they feel well, with support if needed, can be an effective way to support continuity of understanding about an individual in changing circumstances and fluctuating mental health. They could be used alongside more formal Advance Directives, which are designed so the individual gets a say over treatment and other practical decisions should they become too unwell to make decisions themselves.

In the workplace

Many workers and workplaces struggle with understanding how to recognise and address the stress that can lead to new mental health problems or a relapse of existing ones. Employers may find workplace accessibility and reasonable adjustments difficult to understand for mental health. Stigma continues to be very a difficult issue for people with mental health problems who are job seeking or in employment. But as in mental health services, the solutions are often rooted in simple things like communication and being understood as an individual. Both these aspects are addressed in a one-page profile which could help facilitate a person with a mental health problem to self-manage at work and help their manager or colleagues to be supportive in practical ways. If an individual is having problems with workplace stress or is recovering from an episode of mental distress, the ‘how to support me’ part of the one-page profile can help with implementing reasonable adjustments and ensuring accessibility. Mental health stigma can be reduced and crisis prevention promoted in the workplace if every employee has a one-page profile, designed to communicate individual strengths, preferences and needs to line managers and HR personnel.

To summarise, I think that if used well, in mental health services profiles could significantly improve the experience of users and if applied in the workplace, this simple approach could make it a much safer and more accessible place. In both cases, it’s about being known as a person and being able to communicate what’s important to you, which can help with prevention and self-management as well as getting through a crisis period.

Using my one-page profile at work

A good example of how one-page profiles can be used in the workplace to improve output when working closely with people for the first time.

May Lee

May Lee’s one-page profile

Written by May Lee

I am the Cultural Transformation Programme Manager at Certitude, leading on projects around person-centred working and Personalisation. My work includes delivering learning and development support to managers and teams including co-training a number of training days.

Co-training with someone you don’t know can be difficult and a lack of cohesion between trainers often has a detrimental effect on learners. Our corporate induction programme was a three day course which potentially involved up to six different trainers; not all of whom knew each other or usually worked together. In addition to this, various trainers might also deliver other training sessions together. We felt that the development of one-page profiles for training would enable us to know and understand each other beforehand and to deliver a smoother training experience to learners.

Each trainer completed their own profile using the headings ‘like and admire’, ‘important to me (about training)’ and ‘how best to support me (when training). Each person was already experienced in how to complete one as we already have our own one-page profiles for work. Making the profile’s theme specifically about training focused our minds on including the detailed relevant information into the profile that we needed.

We have set up a shared folder on the organisation’s IT network that everyone could access so that trainers can store their profiles in one place and read each others in preparation for co-training. Trainers also send their profiles to new people they are going to co-train with, or are going to deliver group presentations or sessions alongside.

One-page profiles for training have made a positive difference both in terms of supporting the development of relationships between people and also in how we deliver our sessions.

The profiles have helped trainers to get to know each other better pretty  quickly; getting a sense of what each of us is good at and where we want support. Through reading each other’s profiles, we have been able to see where we have things in common and where we might have different approaches to a potential situation – and therefore need to agree a response in advance. We have also been able to plan who does what around each other’s ‘how best to support me’. For example, I have ‘doctor’s handwriting’ so would always prefer not to be the flipchart scribe, whereas another trainer ‘hates the sound of my own voice!’ and so would prefer to facilitate a group rather than deliver a presentation to them.

The profiles have enabled trainers to get to know each other better. In addition, previously we only tended to use certain combinations of trainers for the session based on the fact that people were used to doing certain days together, but the development of profiles has helped us to think more broadly about who we can match with each other by aligning trainers who have similar themes in their ‘important to me’ sections.