In my latest blog, I would like to share with you my views on best practice in supported living and residential care, together with some examples from what I’ve seen visiting Iris Care Group services. I would welcome your views on this, so if you’d like to share your views on best practice, please e-mail me at email@example.com. I think the main areas of best practice are:
1. Active Support
This means involving people we support in everyday activities and always doing this with and not for people. Examples can include cleaning, cooking, gardening, hoovering, loading the dishwasher and hanging clothes on the washing line. It doesn’t matter how disabled a person is, we should always try and find ways to involve them.
The principles of active support include “every moment has potential” (every moment of the day provides an opportunity to involve a person we support in an activity), “little and often” (if someone has a limited attention span involve them for a couple of minutes, continue while they have a break and then try and involve them again) and “graded assistance” (provide just enough support to enable the person to participate, including verbal and physical prompting). I saw some great active support recently at Denmark House, where a gentleman was supported to put a DVD in the DVD player and at Hayburn House where another gentleman was supported to help with the washing up.
2. Paid employment
We should be open minded and creative in finding ways to help people we support get paid work, even it’s only for a couple of hours a week. I’ve known some people with very complex needs people get paid work so we need to avoid making the assumption that an individual could never get a job. A person we support at Cold Harbour Lane works in the kitchen of a local pub and we are helping a person we support at Ty Brynteg learn cycle maintenance skills to set up his own small business in the future repairing bikes.
3. Voluntary employment
It’s important that we encourage people we support to do voluntary work and to make a contribution to their local community. It can be very rewarding and can help build relationships with people in the local community. Charity shops are particularly welcoming of disabled volunteers and several people we support at Northend and Cold Harbour Lane help out in local charity shops in Marlborough.
4. Sport and exercise
We should encourage people we support to participate in sport and exercise. We know it’s good for both our physical and mental health.
5. Meeting health needs
It’s really important that we help people to maintain and improve their health. People should have a health action plan and this should include the support they need if they have additional health complications like epilepsy or diabetes.
6. Reducing challenging behaviour
Where people can present challenges, they should have an effective positive behaviour support plan which is monitored regularly and implemented consistently by the staff team. we should monitor the frequency of incidents and the use of physical interventions. We have had a lot of success in our Welsh services, which support some of the most complex and challenging people in the country, in reducing rates of physical intervention.
7. Social inclusion
We should encourage the people we support to be active members of the local community which will help build relationships with members of the public. I have already mentioned voluntary work; people can also get involved with local clubs, attend churches and mosques and join allotments.
8. Celebrating diversity
We support people from a range of cultural backgrounds and we should support them to maintain their cultural identity if that is their wish, including food and religious festivals.
9. Listening to the voice of people we support
Listening to the voice of people we support: we should actively encourage people we support to have a voice in the way their home runs. This includes having regular and effective meetings with keyworkers, having monthly minuted tenants’ meetings with minutes written in an accessible way where that’s needed, involving people in monitoring the quality of their service (for example carrying out health and safety checks) and choosing their staff.