A Dimensions Assistant Locality Manager from Worcester, I will shortly be buddied up to a Support Worker in India, where we’ll share our experiences and ideas.
Although the project is about introducing person-centred practice to India, I expect I will learn as much as my buddy. I will share what I’ve learnt in a regular blog and, for this first post, I’ll talk about what person-centred practice means to me.
What is person-centred support?
Person-centred practice is about supporting others to lead the life they choose. This involves helping the people we support to have choice and control over their life.
I believe you cannot support someone to do so, until you really get know them; their likes and dislikes, any goals or ambitions they wish to achieve, what is important to them, and how they wish to be supported. Once this has been established, an action plan can be implemented to enable the people we support to embark on achieving their goals.
In my time at Dimensions, I have supported many people, all of which are very unique, with different interests and preferences.
In September 2015, I and a colleague supported a young lady on holiday to Dorset.
Sheila* has Angelman Syndrome and had only been at our service since January 2015. This was her first holiday for a very long time, her previous Support Workers informed us they had had to return home after a day or so because Sheila couldn’t settle.
We wanted to give it a go; we had seen a positive change with Sheila and her behaviour since she first moved into our service.
Sheila rarely went out into the community before coming to Dimensions, and we found that she fully enjoyed being out and about, especially if food was involved! When Sheila first moved in, she was quite withdrawn and it took a good couple of months for us to see the real her and properly get to understand her syndrome, and how she communicates through it.
The holiday itself was a huge success! Although a lot of work had to go into it to be able to get Sheila there, every single obstacle we encountered suddenly didn’t matter. It was honestly the most rewarding thing I have ever done and to say I was proud to be a part of it is an understatement.
Sheila’s whole demeanour changed, she became calm yet extremely happy, and settled every night.
The best part of the holiday was getting her onto Bournemouth beach. Her face lit up when she felt the sand and she managed to crawl to where the tide came in and have a play in the water. This was the first time she had ever been on a beach and we felt like we had all really achieved something that day. It amazes me how something we take for granted, such as being on a beach, can mean so much more to somebody else.
Sharing knowledge and experience
I am keen to introduce person-centred practice to others; as everyone is entitled to the best quality of life they can possibly get.
I would like to see a positive change to the way we do things, and help the people we support to try new things and have an influence on how they are supported.
It is our job to let the people we support know that their voices matter, that they will be heard and that they are at the forefront of everything we do.
Now, I doubt that taking the people they support on holiday will be at the top of my Indian buddy’s to-do list. But I hope the principle – of delivering the basic human rights of choice and control – is valid whatever the situation.
Time to jump in and find out.
*names have been changed to protect privacy