Taking part in Thistle's 'Making it Personal' training has transformed and inspired Chris' practice
Chris Archibald works at Turning Point Scotland (TPS), where he is the service co-ordinator for two projects; one is managing 24/7 support for an adult male with epilepsy and Aspergers syndrome, the other is managing a communal living complex for adult males with learning disabilities.
Last year, Chris attended Thistle’s Making it Personal course in Perth and it had an immediate effect. ‘I realised I can influence change,’ explains Chris. ‘And I understand things better now – for example, one gentleman we support wanted to have a party to celebrate living in supported accommodation for 25 years. At first I didn’t understand why he’d want to celebrate living with these restrictions, but now I realise it’s important because it matters to him.’
That’s what Thistle’s Making it Personal course focuses on – it’s about what matters, not what is the matter. The training encourages participants to take a person centred approach and to embed this into all elements of their practice. ‘Now I can pick through the minutiae of daily life and see the things that matter,’ explains Chris, and that’s what he started to do. ‘One man we support was very negative when I started working with him. Other support workers had experienced this too. I realised that it was down to anxiety around the change in situation and so I gave him some time and space, leaving him to be on his own while I did the hand over with the other member of his team.’ The difference was huge. ‘He’s now a much more confident and a less anxious individual when we start working together,’ says Chris.
Another change came after Chris supported a man to attend a Learning Disability conference in Glasgow. ‘At the hotel where we were staying there was a pool, and this gentleman asked if we could get up early and go swimming and try out the Gym,’ says Chris. At 7am he was ready to go. ‘I realised that early in the morning is when he wants to get up and using the Gym is a way of achieving his goal lose weight and therefore feel better.’ Previously support had started at 9am, but after the trip Chris made arrangements for the gentleman’s support to start earlier, so he can get more out of the day.
Chris has made other small but impactful changes following the training – ‘the support plans have always looked the same, now people choose their own colour folder,’ says Chris. ‘I stopped recording information with a pen and paper with one man who got quite anxious about having conversations about support, it made things much more natural and so the information is more accurate too.’
‘After the training I felt energised and excited to take all of my ideas back [to Turning Point Scotland]’, says Chris, ‘I wanted to influence other people – the more teams buy into supporting personal outcomes the better the lives of the people we support.’
Chris returned to Thistle this year to join the 10 day free course for previous participants on the Making it Personal Course. He is also starting to work with internal trainers at TPS to push forward personal outcomes within the organisation.