Creating the environment to reflect builds a stronger team

March 14, 2017

Erica, Manager of Moor Lane, is a fully qualified Learning Disability Nurse who completed her training many years ago at the University of West England. As she was completing her training she was involved in moving the final few patients, as they were then called, out of a long stay institution into the community. The way in which care and support was provided to individuals back then could only be described as institutionalised. Erica was pleased to be helping with the changes that were being implemented across the care sector and after she qualified she worked in a smaller setting providing care and support to individuals with learning disabilities and complex needs.

Having spent a number of years now as a manager Erica enjoys mentoring new colleagues as they join her team. Erica reflected recently on just how much the provision of care and support has changed over the years. Many of the older supported individuals will have had direct experience of these changes but Erica felt this was perhaps something that her team might not be aware of.
So Erica has developed some reflective practice sessions that she hopes help her team increase their understanding of the importance of their roles and the way in which they are required to support individuals.

So far her team have watched films about Winterbourne View, and the Silent Minority. She has brought in books for colleagues to read and discuss, some related to her training and others covering large institutions long since closed, around the Bristol area.

Most recently colleagues have been exploring the local museum at Glenside Hospital Museum which looks at life in an asylum and care provision through institutions. It includes a mock-up of electric shock treatments, people working in workshops and various artefacts used and worn. 12 team members have visited so far.

Erica hoped this would bring to life how important it is to ensure that we remain person centred and never go backwards, always seeking to improve our practices and our understanding.

Simon Hughes, a colleague at Moor Lane has been involved in these sessions and said that many of the younger colleagues within the support team were shocked by the practices and distressed to learn that many older people with learning disabilities and complex needs would have experienced such treatment. As a team, Simon says they have become more aware of the importance of great support, professional development and that they now regularly meet to discuss what improvements they can make to improve supported individuals lives. They understand why the services are so tightly governed and are keen to make sure everything is recorded and that if something tried, hasn’t proved to be as positive as they’d hoped, they all talk through these issues, as a team, finding ways to progress together.

As a next step, the team are now undertaking a research piece covering how they believe practices and environments have changed, what has not changed and how each team member would work to prevent any malpractice in the future.

By learning about the historical and institutionalised practices the team have created the forum to reflect and share experiences and ideas that are greatly benefiting those they support through increased understanding and empathy. They know how important their roles are to ensuring that the people they support live the lives they chose, in a way that is positive, safe and offers them opportunities to succeed.

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