Families as Partners
As the parent of a 21 year old with severe learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges, I have found that when we are able to work in partnership pooling all our combined knowledge and many ways of knowing, this has led to better outcomes for Rhys and us as a family. When professionals explain what their role is and how they can help Rhys, it helps me to understand my role in supporting them. For example, family carers often know an individual’s particular way of communicating their preferences and the best approach to use. Sharing our understanding of what needs to be in place helps ensure that Rhys doesn’t need to be challenging to be heard. Working with the professionals as equal partners has led to tailored person-centred support that meets Rhys’ needs more effectively - and it costs less too!
Rhys has a Person-Centred Plan that was compiled with contributions from school, the respite unit and a circle of support (family and friends who knew Rhys well), which gives the fine details of what works for Rhys. It includes how he communicates and how to communicate with him. We have found that the staff team needs to be person-centred, open minded and comfortable asking for help. Family carers provide consistency when other agencies may change, for example from school to adult services. Sharing what works and what does not enables effective communication and a better understanding of how we can work together.
Jackie Edwards, mother to Rhys.