On The Ideas Team creative approaches and their impact on service users and staff

Cherry road day centre provides day service for people with Complex support needs (relating to Autism, and behavioural, social and emotional support needs) or individual with Profound and Multiple Learning Disability & physical disabilities. Three years ago it adopted approaches as a way of providing a more relevant service to people with multiple sensory disabilities.

For People with complex support needs the traditional day service model offers limited access to meaningful and inclusive activities. We invite new ways of working and thinking. So our partnership with Artlink, particularly through the Ideas Team, offers us the opportunity to exchange ways of working and learn from each other, making our service more relevant to the people who use it.

The process that the Ideas Team promotes is not a quick fix. It takes great patience and through trial and error, experimentation and taking chances we are slowly introducing new experiences for the people we work with, experiences that we can build upon .

For Cherry Road, The Ideas Team is a creative and inspirational approach which helps to, “break down barriers”. It encourages more effective communication, as it facilitates the development of relationships between individuals and their support staff. This creative approach is non – threatening, positive and very productive as it encourages everyone to work together, sharing our skills, theory and effective practice.

For the individual with profound learning disabilities it offers an opportunity to exert control over their environment, using an activity to create new forms of communication which further inform what is, changing their role from that of a passive recipient to an active participator.

By looking at this creative process as a form of communication, a way of breaking down barriers, exploring the detail in the individuals responses we have opened up an alternative 2 way process. Carers and individual are sharing experiences and learning from each other. It’s an exploration of human relationships built upon mutual trust and equality. All parties involved are learning and exploring their environment and sensory world, listening and observing together for the first time.

 Impact on the service.

The most powerful impact on our service has been the change in attitudes and expectations that we (carers and service users) have in relation to each other. Sharing the experiences in workshops with the carers strengthens the identity and individuality of each participant.

This has facilitated the development of a service that offers opportunities and outcomes that are truly meaningful to the individual, motivating and inspiring them to engage with their environment and the people around them.

Positive and respectful relationships that have now become exciting journey’s for us all to develop our skills confidence and trust in each other.

It’s has increased other people’s expectations of the individual making us all braver to try new things and take positive risks.

Improved the staffs abilities to communicate effectively with and understanding the individuals they support. Not just in developing the augmentative communication skills but learning to stop, look and listen beyond our functional responsibilities for the individual.

Significant increase in the individual participation in making choices that impact on their day to day lives and experiences.

Enabled carers to take this journey with the person and share ideas and opportunities.

These working approaches have facilitated new experiences through the introduction of activities ( and environments) that would have previously been too difficult for the individual to cope with e.g. group activities, community based activities and shared day to day activities.

We have evidence of these experiences increasing individual’s toleration when exposed to social situations and sensory triggers. Also we have observed reductions in individual’s anxiety levels and the expression of behaviours which have previously had a significantly limiting impact on the individual’s lifestyle.

Measuring reaction and success of the opportunities offered has enabled the service to utilise evidence and review and assess outcomes in a more productive and successful manner. Visual evidence rather than the subjective descriptions of 1 person’s opinion helps us gain a better insight into the journey people take, and what motivate them.

Many times we are inspired by the individual and what they have to teach us about who they are. This has changed our perceptions of them as people who have so much to offer us who are not the passive or resistant recipients of our care and resources we imagine them to be.

It feels like the individuals we work with are starting to tell us that we have at last ‘got it’ and I wonder if they are also saying ‘why did it take you so long?’

It is often simple actions that are the most effective, we need to take the time to stop and listen, watch carefully, learn and share an experience with people rather than do it to them. This has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for us all.

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