Personalisation to the power of 10

Posted by on 16 May 2012 | 0 Comments

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10 examples of personalisation at Equinox Lewisham – from referral through to independent living.

In this article, Philippa (project worker), Peter (Service Manager) and Bobby (Assistant Service Manager) talk about some of the individual approaches to recovery for service users with complex mental health needs and family members...

1) A personalised welcome to Equinox Lewisham...

Philippa: “We assess all service users to find out if there’s substance use, mental ill health, forensic history, money troubles, debt problems, family problems and so on – then we ask in every area, can we help directly or can we signpost?”

Bobby: “We’ve got a really clear referrals policy. We identify the goals in the referral interview and also do the bones of the risk assessment – so when service users move in, their key worker is not a stranger. People can also meet current service users before they move in, by attending house meetings or having a meal with other residents.”

Peter: “And we don’t reject people – we believe in second and third chances.”

2) Helping people rejoin a different world...

Peter: “Equinox Lewisham works with people who may have been in a secure unit for a long time or people who may have served long sentences. These people come back into a different world. Their family connections may be broken. Society may have moved on. I always remember one guy telling me how amazed he was to discover mobile phones. Another person told me that his family had all moved away and he didn’t know where they lived anymore.

“In terms of choice and support, it’s about us helping to integrate people into society at a pace they can cope with – and recognising that is very different for each person. We try to ensure people have a better self-picture by the time they leave us.”

3) Offering service users and staff positive support...

Peter: “Part of my role is getting out to all Equinox Lewisham projects with my two Assistant Service Managers Bobby and Arek. It’s about intervening quickly where necessary, always working closely with partner agencies to ensure the best service possible for Equinox service users. We update all our care coordinators and partners on a daily basis with regard to any concerns about service users.

“We allocate primary workers and link workers so every Equinox service user has at least two people working with them. The team has lots of experience from different backgrounds: drugs, alcohol, mental health, psychology, sociology, law – men and women, from different countries.”

Bobby: “We promote wellness and recovery here, allowing  and supporting  people to take positive risks. It’s so important for growth to allow people to make mistakes. Positive risk-taking is about everyone knowing what’s going on with service users all the time, so twice a day we have handover meetings, morning and afternoon."

Philippa: “And once a month, we have a very clinical-focused session where anyone can raise anything about a service user – to discuss with the whole Equinox team how a case might be managed even better.”

4) Building relationships in unique ways...

Philippa: “Personalisation is also about building up individual relationships with our service users over time, to help them to buy into their recovery process.”

“For example, I accompanied a service user recently to visit his mother’s grave – that’s not in any kind of agreement, that’s just what he needed at the time. I spent the afternoon with him and we talked. He wrote a letter to his mother and left it at the grave. The bond that grew between us that day was extraordinary. I’d say that was one of the most important things I’ve ever done at work.”

5) Communicating with service users in the right way for them...

Philippa: “One service user I work with won’t read wordy paperwork, so I produced with my social work student some diagrams with simple phrases for his support plan. This covered what he had achieved and what he planned to do next – it was something he could understand.”

Bobby: “We’ve also used audio CDs for support plans.”

Peter: “Just yesterday, Camilla a student did subject clouds on a drawing and linked them altogether – showing how this particular service user might effect change. It was done in a way the individual was engaged in. He clearly understood options and choices.”

6) Keeping up relationships with Equinox service users and their families...

Peter: “If people re-offend, we write and go to visit people in prison to keep the relationship going. We also visit and write to people who are in hospital. Some times we maintain relationships with persons who are joining us in the future. This gives some kind of feeling of an outside world – that’s important for people to hold on to when the world might be falling apart around them.

“And there was a gentleman who died of natural causes recently. We spoke to the family overseas – he’d been on 5 holidays with our services, so we were able to produce a photo album and a CD of pictures for his family. After meetings with his family it was agreed that we play the music he liked and we projected his pictures on the wall. We also offered counselling support to his family members.”

7) Giving Equinox service users opportunities to get involved...

Bobby: “On an organisational level, our service users review policy and procedure documents in their house meetings and in key work sessions. For example recently we implemented a new  approach to linking the shorthold tenancy to reviews. We are now collecting feedback on this.

“We also do a satisfaction survey twice a year about staff, the service, accommodation and complaints handling. We ask service users to tell us anything they feel can be bettered – this then shapes our service objectives.

“Feedback we’ve had includes: “I feel safe where I live” and “I don’t know what I and my son would have done without your tremendous support.””

Peter: “These surveys are another way for service users to speak up about something they may not talk to their key worker about – which gives us another chance to effect change in a positive way.”

Bobby: “And we also do an anonymous suggestion box – for the same reason of allowing service users to speak out in ways they feel safe.”

8) Encouraging service users to have their voices heard...

Peter: “We try to ensure everyone who comes to Equinox Lewisham can make their own choices. We help service users understand options and the consequences of choices they make.”

Philippa: “When people come from hospitals and prisons, they can be institutionalised. They often aren’t able to get involved or challenge decisions in their own life. It’s great when we see people start to challenge us, because we know their support plan is working when they do this.”

Peter: “We do advocate for service users’ rights. We will push for their voices to be heard, for example by the medical profession or in accessing the right benefits.”

9)  Equinox service users on recruiting panels...

Peter: “Service users are always on the money in terms of scoring potential recruits. We train people before they take part in interviews to support them.”

Bobby: “I remember getting a real scenario from a service user in my job interview. He asked how I’d handle a particular circumstance. That was better than any other question because I really had to think what I’d do in that situation.”

10) Sharing the best in training...

Peter: “We have great working relationships with Southbank, Greenwich, Kingston and Goldsmiths University and we have supported 17 social workers across Equinox Lewisham services in the last year. So far to date, Southbank and Greenwich and Kingston have asked us to enter into letters of cooperation with us – to share training with us but also for us to go and train there.” There will also be opportunities for service users to interview social work students

Philippa: “Social work students get their own workload and they are closely mentored by us here at Equinox Lewisham. This allows us to do so much more with our service users.”

Find out more information here about Equinox Lewisham or if you are commissioning services, please call Service Manager Peter Crudeli on 0207 740 9800 to discuss your project.

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