Do your support staff seek permission before they touch people? Our members use us to create better support relationships. Watch this video:
Our new module ‘Personal and Intimate Care’ offers several very practical strategies that can be used to seek permission even when people do not use words to speak.
Parallel talk is one such example. Parallel talk simply means describing your actions before and as you take them. It can be as simple as: “I’m just going to reach over for the shaving foam…okay I’m ready to start by helping you wet your face…now are you ready for me to carry on?” The key is ensuring the person is always aware of what is happening well before it happens. A key word, phrase or behavior can indicate someone’s choice. Many people give permission without speech – it could be their facial expression, their posture or simply their gaze. So you wait for their response, then move on.
In the busyness of our work we can forget about humanity really fast. Parallel talk slows us down and reestablishes that connection. Plus when combined with a routine that all staff follow, it can encourage learning. Every time you describe what you do, the individual gets to hear and experience the routine. Without knowing it, learning starts happening and at that point even people with profound disabilities will start to participate in the routine.
Preserving dignity and promoting control are two of the most important tasks a support staff person undertakes. Why? Because we expect it ourselves.
For most of us, the busy holiday season means time to entertain, party and enjoy some down time with friends and family. But for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it can be an intensely lonely time of the year when the social isolation they already experience only gets worse. Imagine if the only people you saw over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year were those paid to support you?
Friendships – all year round, not just in the holidays – as Open Future contributor and self-advocate Steve Dymond says, are crucial:
“It’s important for me to have friends because without friends you haven’t got anyone else you can rely on. It’s a good feeling to know you have some people there if you need them. It’s all about sharing experiences and sharing different things between each other.”
Open Future Learning strongly believes that the support staff person’s most important role is to help people to develop and maintain friendships. Community and friendships help us to live longer and happier lives, yet a recent review of research showed that 50% of people we support experience chronic loneliness.
As Open Future contributor David Pitonyak says in this film: “Nothing is more important than building meaningful and enduring relationships.”
Helping people to connect with others in their communities can seem like a daunting task. Open Future contributor Margaret Cushen says a community mapping exercise is one way to start building connections, just by writing down or photographing local places and activities that are – or could be – important to someone.
Leading thinker Beth Mount adds:
“We have to know people’s communities inside and out. We go into community as an explorer. What are the assets of this place, what do people need done here, what do people need help with, where are the opportunities to contribute? Talk to people, go explore! Find out what is here in this place and how that might be a world that someone with a disability can bring and offer something.”
To build and connect someone to new friendships most successfully means being the kind of support worker who recognizes they are not at the center of things. Instead, their role is clearly to help people take control of their own lives as active members of the community. “As a support worker,” says Open Future contributor Jack Pearpoint “it’s really important for you not to create dependency…a key role is to expand the network of support, build the circle of friends, and engage people in the community.”
It is worth bearing in mind the basic tasks of good support as developed by John O’Brien which are as pertinent now as they were almost 40 years ago when they were first developed. To help people become full citizens, John said, the first step is to discover their gifts and interests, create opportunities in community and help people share those gifts.
One story David Pitonyak tells is about once working with a young man called Roland. Roland was very aggressive, but he and David made a connection. Returning to his shift one evening in Vermont, he noticed Roland had left the home without anyone noticing. David eventually found Roland tramping through the snow walking towards his house. David recalls:
“I realized that an essential place of Roland’s suffering is that he didn’t have anybody in his life. We knew he experienced autism; we knew he was aggressive. But nobody had ever noticed that he had no people that he wanted to be with.”
David shares that he used his close and trusted relationship with Roland to help Roland to explore and experience things he had never tried before. David explains that it wasn’t long before Roland was making expansive lists detailing all the things he wanted to do and all the people he wanted to see in a day.
As David says, relationships are critical to our wellbeing. Having something to look forward to helps us cope better with our daily lives. “A lot of people who experience disability don’t have that much to look forward to…I really believe we should help people find more joy in their lives”.
And what better time to find that joy than this holiday season.
Learn more about the module ‘Building Friendships and Community’ and all of the Open Future Learning modules here.
To recognize that every person is unique and to respect each person’s differences define diversity and the mission of our new module. Watch this:
Co written by Charles Archer, Karyn Harvey, Roger Ramsukh and Dave Hingsburger this module features four very different perspectives on diversity. These perspectives will in turn explore how you can allow people to define who they are, how they lead their lives, what they need to be safe, and how your support can lead them to reach their potential in all that they do.
Communication is the most complex human skill. It is the way we understand the world, express ourselves as individuals, make choices, develop relationships, build trust and control our lives. Our module by renowned speech and language specialist, Sue Thurman, provides a comprehensive and straightforward introduction to the subject.
This module features presentations from a range of leading professionals and self-advocates, including Dave Hingsburger, Lynda Kahn, Kathie Snow, Jack Pearpoint, Simon Haywood, Brad Goldman, Steve Dymond, and Margaret Cushen.
On successful completion of this module, learners will be able to:
Describe the personal, social, and physical barriers to communication and the potential impact of these barriers.
Explain the importance of communication.
Understand the different ways people can communicate, including without words and your role in using the different forms of communication.
Describe in detail a wide variety of approaches that use alternative and augmentative communication.
Define how you can use your role to support good communication.
The people you support can and should make decisions. This module will help you to learn how.
The relationship you have with the people you support is an intimate one. Over time you develop trust, respect and understanding. This module will help you to understand how you can support people to claim their voice so they can express their opinions, and make their choices.
This module includes video presentations from Michael Kendrick, Malia Carlotto, and Bob Fleischner.
On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
– Understand the different ways that people make decisions.
– Describe supported decision-making and how it works.
– Explain the support people will need to make their own decisions.
Narrated by Beth Mount, this excerpt from our module “Valued Social Roles” explains the importance of helping people to build wide, deep and sustaining relationships.
This module is written by Marc Tumeinski from the Social Role Valorization (SRV) Implementation Project. Marc uses his intimate knowledge of SRV to help learners to reflect on both the barriers to the “Good Things of Life” and how valued social roles may help the people we support to have greater access to these good things.
This module includes video presentations from Marc Tumeinski, Gary Kent, Beth Mount, Steve Dymond, Jack Pearpoint, and Simon Duffy.
On successful completion of this module, learners will be able to:
Describe related elements of social devaluation: negative perception followed by negative treatment.
Describe a shared practice of human service involving vision, attitudes, and skills and actions.
Understand and articulate a shared practice for supporting the people you support.
Describe the “good things in life” and valued social roles with examples, and also explain how they are linked.
Describe devalued roles as wounds, how these occur, and what the consequences of these wounds may be.
Understand and articulate skills and attitudes which support our vision including: Stepping into the shoes of the people you support, serving one person at a time, and holding high, positive expectations for the people you support and for ourselves.
Describe how rejection, distancing, and communication can be potential barriers to applying this vision.
Explain how you can be a better listener.
Explain how person-centered planning can help to raise possibilities and expectations.
Understand the importance of, and how to enhance image and competency, and how to avoid the associated challenges that may include life wasting, lost opportunities, and society’s own perception.
The song ‘Seven Ways to Cause a Crisis’ highlight what do we do that actually causes a crisis to happen in someone’s life? What do we (ie: support staff, team, system. support plan) unintentionally do that causes crisis in the … Continue reading →
This video explores what we can do to better listen to people who are in direct support roles in order to improve the quality of life of both the support professional as well as the person being supported. Direct … Continue reading →
Heather Simmons shares an insightful story illuminating the idea that people of all abilities have the ability to learn giving the opportunity. Although Heather was originally from Scotland she now lives in Perth Australia where, with her husband Richard Hill, … Continue reading →
Enjoy this short excerpt from our series of Side by Side modules on Relationships, Dating, and Intimacy written by Dave Hingsburger. There is no “best way” to deal with rejection, but there are a lot of bad ways. The module … Continue reading →
SEX…have I got your attention? In this video, Gary Kent gives everyone something to think about. Kent sheds light on the idea of how people with disabilities have a lack of control over their own lifes. His blunt and straightforward example of how even the opportunity to have sexual relations is controlled by others, gives us all something to think about.
This video explains that although we trust doctors and psychologists, who have extensive years of education to inform us about disabilities, the reality is, sometimes the best way to learn from and understand the people we support is to SPEAK … Continue reading →
Your staff can now learn about “Understanding and Promoting Rights” with either our long or new short version module. But first watch this fun music video we made about rights, community and more! Our new module “Understanding and Promoting Rights … Continue reading →
This Side by Side module is the second part in a three-part series. It has been designed to help you and the people who support you learn how to have a great working relationship. Any good relationship requires work, care, … Continue reading →
This module is the first part in a three-part series. It has been designed to help you and the people who support you learn how to have a great working relationship. The relationship between you and your staff can be … Continue reading →
This module will explain what some of your most important rights are. This module includes presentations from a range of leading professionals and self-advocates, including Simon Duffy, Harvey Pact, and Peter Leidy After completing this module, you will be able to: … Continue reading →
This module shares some ways that you can find and make friends. Friendships can make a big difference to your life. Friendships can make you happier, healthier, and help you to live longer. This module features presentations from a range … Continue reading →
This module will help you to understand the many ways to find out who are the people, where are the places, and what happens in your community. This module will help you to explain how you can use your interests … Continue reading →
We all have and need people in our lives. A circle of friends is a good way to make your life better. This module describes how to start a circle of friends, how you can keep control over the process, … Continue reading →
You may have a lovely home in a nice community, but you could still be lonely. Some people with disabilities have experienced abuse and discrimination, and have been not allowed to have ordinary opportunities to be part of community life … Continue reading →
This module explores why being in control of your own life is important. This module features presentations from a range of leading professionals and self-advocates, including Patti Scott, Simon Duffy, Bernard Carabello, and Dave Hasbury. After finishing this module, … Continue reading →
This module presents a clear and matter-of-fact approach to the rights of the people we support. Beyond describing and defining rights, this module gives the user first hand knowledge and expertise on how to maintain and promote the rights of … Continue reading →