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“My sandwich might look a bloody mess but it tastes so good because I made it”

The 13th of February was, without a doubt, my best day at work this year. We held an event for colleagues to share their success stories, focusing on Person-Centred Active Support (PCAS.) Just over 70 people attended, including people we support and colleagues from all levels in the organisation.

The stories that people we support told about their achievements were phenomenal. I was moved and inspired by the great things that people have done. Each presentation started with performance coaches describing how they have helped to embed PCAS in their regions, such as colleague inductions and Activate cafés and workshops.

Photo Rachael Dodgson
Rachael Dodgson blogs

Then people we support and colleagues from across the organisation told us their stories. I was struck by several things: how PCAS had really improved the quality of life for a wide range of people with different needs and aspirations, how proud people were, and what a difference PCAS had made not only to people we support but to our colleagues as well. Colleagues talked about greater job satisfaction and feeling that they had really made a difference to people’s lives.

While I can’t retell all the stories here, I want to share some examples.

We heard about people being supported, through Positive Behaviour Support and PCAS, to change their behaviours, reduce medication, get out and about more and take part in everyday activities. We heard from David, who has lost 8 stone through exercise and diet changes and feels much happier with his life (he even made the audience join in with some exercise on the day!) We heard about Jess, who has taken up Zumba with great enthusiasm, which has brought solid friendships and new opportunities such as performing at Zumba festivals. Meanwhile Mark, who has cerebral palsy, has begun to play a much greater part in his household chores: initially, he wouldn’t go into the kitchen to do the washing up, so his team brought the washing up bowl to him, and now he’s progressed to washing up in the kitchen. This is a great example of overcoming obstacles to deliver PCAS in the right place.

Almost all of the stories we heard came directly from either the person we support or their support team, or both.

My ambition is that everyone we support achieves great things through Activate, and Person-Centred Active Support (PCAS) is a significant part of that. There were some common themes that came through in all the success stories, which provide great tips to help us get it right:

  • Ambition and perseverance

In one way or another, everyone talked about not giving up on people and the need to keep pushing the boundaries and trying new things.

  • ‘Having a go’

PCAS won’t always work out in the way we expect it to, because working with people always means that there is an element of unpredictability. But doesn’t matter if we get it wrong sometimes, because we learn just as much from our failures as our successes. We need to support people to take positive risks, as we all do in our daily lives.

  • Seeing a person’s individual aspirations

We can’t provide effective person-centred support without really getting to know the people we support as individuals and recognising their goals and aspirations, rather than viewing their disability as a barrier to success.

I’m ending this blog with a quote from someone we support called Geoff, who has learnt to make his own sandwich. He said, “My sandwich might look a bloody mess but it tastes so good because I made it!” Let’s do everything we can to enable people we support to feel the sense of achievement and pride that Geoff does.

By Rachael Dodgson, Dimensions Managing Director