Lambeth Team turns things around!

A new manager, some fresh ideas and a real sense of equality has transformed the lives of the people we support who share a house within Lambeth.

Several years’ ago we recognised that the support we were offering was not up to scratch; the people who live at this property have learning disabilities and complex needs and they were not getting enough choice and control over their lives. To shake things up we introduced a new house manager and she has created a team so dynamic, imaginative and cohesive that we wanted to share their learning with everyone in the organisation.

The first thing the new manager Catherine did was to encourage staff to take more time getting to know the people they were supporting. They used person-centred thinking to actively communicate with people living at the house and to find out as much as possible about them as well.

As some of the people find it hard to communicate verbally, the manager called in our intensive interaction specialist, Lucy Harrison, who showed the team different techniques to encourage people to open up. This has altered relationships in the house dramatically with people who had previously resisted most attempts to communicate, now initiating interaction themselves.

Waiting for the match to begin!

Staff have been encouraged to be more risk enabling and new ideas are welcomed. Catherine supports staff when they want to do something ambitious or different which is illustrated perfectly by the activities of Joseph who, it turns out, really enjoys clubbing and football. Lewis and Richard, who support Joseph, organised a night out clubbing and they all got in at 5am. The same day they got themselves up and out to watch Crystal Palace play a match in the afternoon. Just a regular weekend for many guys his age, and now the first of many for Joseph. In fact last we heard Joseph is on the VIP guest list of his favourite nightclub!

Clubbings with the guys!

With a blast of new ideas and energy sweeping through the house, the team has also learned to support one another more effectively. They have welcomed apprentice support workers – and their bold ideas – and have a greater respect for one another as well as the people they support. They recognise their strengths and weaknesses and support each other when things don’t go to plan.

Catherine says: “The team are always looking support people to try new things based on person centred principles and staff matching. The team also work much better together, accepting and working with strengths and needs. They understand that they must work together to offer the right support and understand the importance of supporting people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. They know even though things can sometimes be tough that it is also so rewarding.”

The team has also become genuine advocates for the people they support. This is illustrated once again by the team who argued against Nicos being moved to a nursing home. The whole team set about showing how things could be adapted and now Nicos has been able to stay in his home where he is happy.

As well as a considerable shift in attitudes, some practical changes have made a difference. Accessibility has been improved with new kitchen adaptations for wheelchair users and a coat of paint and better decor throughout the house have created a more homely environment.

Learning Disability Director, Janette Gaffney, has met the team to talk about their approach and achievements, and is keen to see the same transformation in other properties.

“I am thrilled by the energy and enthusiasm which comes from this house. It’s a real joy to see this cohesive group of people out and about, supporting each another and having fun. It is clear that spending time building good relationships and embracing new ideas is at the heart of this team transformation.”