An event to discuss how to develop services for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs in order to give them more opportunities to make informed decisions about their care has been held at the House of Lords.
“Pursuing Excellence In Person-centred Care” was hosted by The Viscount Bridgeman and organised by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest, private organisation providing supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury.
Regard Chief Executive, Sandie Foxall-Smith, said: “We put the wishes of the people we support at the centre of everything that we do. Person-centred care is not just about activities, it is about considering people’s desires and aspirations, seeing the person as an individual and being respectful.
“This event was aimed at raising the profile of person-centred care and getting key people together, who are involved in all aspects of care, to discuss how we all need to change, develop and adapt. That includes those with disabilities, those who support them, their families and others who are involved in their care.
“It is all very well to talk about these things in theory but those on the front line need practical strategies. We need to put a person at the heart of their own care, even when they have communications difficulties and find it hard to tell us their needs.”
More than 1,100 people are now cared for by Regard, which has a dedicated staff of over 2,100 people at 147 locations throughout the UK.
Attendees to The House of Lords event discussed how decisions can be shared with individuals so they are helped to manage their own health, finances and lifestyle.
People who use Regard’s services are involved in all aspects of their support, from the recruitment of staff through to day-to-day matters. Staff appreciate how important this responsibility is to service users and how it reflects their desire to make a genuine contribution. Where possible individuals are supported to manage their own finances and health as well as being taught life skills such as road safety and receiving help in finding employment.
For Thomas Coleman, 25, who lives at the Hedera House service, (one of five individuals Regard supports who were invited to the House of Lords event) the evening was particularly special because of his fascination with historic properties and encyclopaedic knowledge of the British monarchy.
Sarah Gilbert, 42, travelled 230-miles from Faerdre in Ceredigion with support worker Caryl Mayes-Davies. Said Caryl: “Sarah has been counting down the days on her sticker-chart. She has had the time of her life and loved every moment.”
Meanwhile, Ben Read, from the Waverly Avenue service in Twickenham, was invited to the function in recognition of the ‘huge progress’ he has made since transitioning to the supported living service from residential care. Ben goes to college twice a week at Hounslow Adult Education in Brentford, and volunteers at Regard’s nearby Kneller Road service where he helps out as part of a Gateway Active Gold Award.
Those attending the event heard about Regard’s Personal Daily Outcomes tool which helps achieve person-centred support every day for individuals in its services. James Kiamtia-Cooper, Head of Behaviour Support at Regard, outlined how positive behaviour tools and strategies can enhance the quality of life for those with challenging behaviour.
Sylvia Zachariah, Registered Specialist with Investors in People, discussed how Regard’s strategy of continuous improvement enabled them to achieve the Gold Standard.
She said of Regard: “Your employees are highly motivated and are fully embracing the person-centred approach, which is the foundation of their work. It is rare that I find a cohort of staff so committed to improving the life of those in their care.”
The management team at Regard will be looking at how future care provision needs to develop in the light of issues raised at the event.