Livability Lifestyle Choices East Midlands

Active support –  focus of support we will provide.

We began using Active Support with in our day service for adults with a learning disability. All staff attended the training facilitated by Christine Rose from ARC. The staff came away from this training feeling exhilarated and focussed on putting it into practice.

Overcoming barriers

There were some barriers we came across in the initial stages, particularly around the paperwork side of things. The opportunity plans that staff were starting to use with our customers didn’t fit well with our existing paperwork and what they needed to record so another document was written to fit the service. Even then staff seemed to lack understanding and confidence in the administrating side. Another barrier to the consistency of the support was other or new staff coming into the service and not understanding the expectation or the having the confidence in the use of Active Support. Of course with clear opportunity plans in place which they would have read, they would have a better understanding, but the fast paced environment of the day service means that this isn’t always possible. Generally, staff have needed a lot of support and mentoring in working with Active Support through the initial stages of implementation.

Physically putting Active Support into practice has been great. Staff quickly adopted the principles of Active Support and this has been evident in the working environment. Staff have been standing back rather than jumping straight in and doing a task for people. One example was a lady who always asked for her orange to be peeled. A staff member used this as an opportunity to provide active support by starting her off with peeling each bit, she gradually did a little bit more each time for herself. Customers at lunch times have been doing more for themselves and staff have worked with individuals who would normally expect their lunches to be prepared for them i.e soup, toast etc. to take part in these processes.

Staff have also been much more conscious of the language that they are using with people. I do not think people realised how their use of language impacts on a person’s interpretation and understanding. Staff have been more aware of terminology they are using, and been more aware of not “flowering up” instructions. Instead clear, precise and direct communication and instruction is being more widely used.

In terms of recruiting staff we do have our interview questions tailored to be very person centred in their focus. We do avoid using terminology such as person centred, active support and so on, as we may be in danger of the candidate not being previously from this work sector and not understanding what we are asking in the questions.

Our local commissioner was also very impressed with the active support programme

We have had some very positive comments from parents, carers, local authority and commissioners on the support provided by our service since the implementation of active support and outcome star. We have used both systems alongside each other as they compliment each other in terms of support provided, reviewing and monitoring. We have a new fully furnished training flat which opened last summer. In the training flat we are able to provide 1:1 support to customers and focus on independent living skills. We organised a grand opening and invited other professionals we work with, parents, carers and anyone else who maybe interested in our service. At the event we had customers and staff demonstrating active support, task analysis and outcome star reviewing. We received lots of praise on even made it to the local press. From this event we have gained links with the local secondary school SENCO facilitator who would like to use our facility.

We have recently had Northamptonshire County Council reviewer of day service provision visit for an inspection and the result of this has been extremely positive. Our local commissioner was also very impressed with the active support programme and asked for the contact details of ARC.

We now have customers buying our 1:1 service in the training flat to learn and experience independent living training which is conducted using active support. One customer who uses this facility on a weekly basis is aiming to live independently. The active support that is being provided is focussing on the skills to enable him to do so.

We have noticed a reduction in incidents. People are less frustrated. People are doing more for themselves and are given more opportunities and responsibilities.

Since using active support there have been some changes which we have noticed in behaviour. One customer, who would ask if he could make a drink after every meal, is not asking staff but just going ahead and making one. Prior to this staff would reply to him “you do not need to ask”. It was a habit he had developed. One lady at coffee break time would go to a table and sit and wait for a staff member or another customer to make her coffee for her, now, with support she is able to choose and make her own hot drink with no support. Customers that would previously disengage from cooking are now joining in with the group after aids to help achieve tasks in the kitchen have been put in place. We have noticed a reduction in incidents. People are less frustrated. People are doing more for themselves and are given more opportunities and responsibilities. One gentleman is very good with computers so he now takes on an IT role in the Centre. We have also noticed improvements in mental health and personal hygiene.

We have also noticed that confidence has grown for several people and there is less disengagement.

Generally staff are supporting customers to maintain skills. Due to the ageing demographic of our customers, there are many people with the onset of dementia so using Active Support methods enables them to maintain skills. The customers that are new to our service and using our 1:1 support, will gain new and enhance skills using active support.

This project will not end for us. Livability as an organisation has adopted this style of support for all of its services. Active support will remain the focus of support we will provide.

Charmaine Berry
Deputy Manager

Livability Lifestyle Choices East Midlands