Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Messages from 'Having a good day' - Skilled team management
People’s lives improve more quickly when staff time is actively focused around the things that people want to achieve in life. Staff perform better when they know what they are expected to achieve, and they get structured support with the new challenges of person-centred community inclusion work.
- Delivering community day services is a new challenge for front-line managers as well as support staff. They don’t have all the answers. Support networks organised by the Valuing People Support Team have helped - but not everyone can participate in regional groups. More local networks and development opportunities are needed.
- Making the best possible use of staffing resources to enable more individualised, person-centred community support is an organisational challenge. Managers need help and support with it.
- The development of systems to monitor the quality of day-to-day support in community settings is still in its infancy.
- Community support requires good planning and good systems to ensure reliability and consistence, and to manage risks. Not all services have clear enough systems and procedures. Services with buildings may be able to learn from base-less support services.
- With direct payments and independent living funding (ILF) it may be a person with learning disabilities or a family carer who is managing their support team day to day. Some may benefit from help with this task.
- Make sure that managers of community day and support services are equipped for the task. Have a look at the Meeting managers’ development needs checklist and see how many you can answer 'yes’ to.
- Look out for the national Risk and Choice Framework that is currently being developed by the Department of Health.
- Ensure that people with learning disabilities and families have help with day-to-day management and direction of their support workers if they want it. Offer individual support workers the chance to join in with training about building community connections and involvement.
- Ensure that staff have clear guidelines about their personal responsibilities in relation to the crossover between work and home life. Do not look negatively on friendships and bonds between paid staff and the people they support, but make sure that your risk management framework addresses potential issues and people’s families are involved in agreeing risk management plans.
- Help people to develop their creativity. Why not consider buying in some local training for team managers on Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats approach to creativity, or for the full team on lateral thinking? There are many tools around to aid creativity. Use them.
What is the Six Thinking Hats approach?
De Bono’s approach is based on the idea that 'parallel' thinking can enrich and increase the complexity of a situation so as to develop creative thinking.
- White hat thinking - covers facts, figures, information, needs and gaps. I think we need some white hat thinking at this point means 'Let's look at the data'.
- Red hat thinking - covers intuition, feelings and emotions. Putting on my red hat, 'I think this is a terrible proposal'. The thinker is allowed to put forward his or her feelings on the subject without any need to justify them.
- Black hat thinking - is the hat of judgement and caution. The black hat thinking identifies logically why a suggestion does not fit the facts, the available experience, the system in use.
- Yellow hat thinking - covers positive thinking or why something will work and offer benefits. It can look forward to the results of proposed action.
- Green hat thinking - is the hat of creativity, alternatives, proposals, what is interesting, provocations and changes.
- Blue hat thinking - is the process control hat which looks not at the subject itself but at the 'thinking' about the 'thinking'. 'Putting on my blue hat, I feel we should do some more green hat thinking at this point'.
Have you made sure that people managing community day services are well equipped for the task? Have they received training or mentoring which addresses:
- team development approaches and techniques?
- person-centred approaches and the management role?
- managing staff time using 'active support’?
- contingency planning?
- person-centred risk management in community settings?
- systems and processes for monitoring community support?
- techniques for building community connections and inclusion?
- community capacity-building?
- creative problem-solving?
The local authority in Oldham has set up a risk enablement panel as part of the individual budget pilot. The panel is based on the following principles:
- The person is at the centre of all planning. They are entitled to attend the panel, as are their families if appropriate.
- It is a partnership that seeks to find positive outcomes and solutions, and not leave one person to make the decision alone. It includes health and social care staff, plus those from the voluntary and independent sectors.
- It has to be empowering, while protecting the most vulnerable.
- The belief that shared decision-making is the most effective and open way to take what are often life or death decisions, recognising that alongside rights, people have responsibility to share risks and often those risks stay with the person wherever and however they are supported.
- Edward de Bono’s work, especially on parallel (six hats) thinking: Six Thinking Hats. Penguin Books (1999)
- Person-centred Active Support: a training resource from Pavilion Publishing
- Helen Sanderson Associates publications on person-centred approaches and teams
- On everyday risks, the Valuing People website: Keeping Safe section
- Risk toolkit:
how to take care of risk in volunteering. A
guide for organisations. K. Gaskin, Institute for
Volunteering Research and Volunteering England