Yellow Bins, Hazard Cones, Lanyards….and keeping it real!

My blogs seem to be like buses at the moment (well buses in a town or city not a rural village like the one I live in!) you don’t see one for ages and then three come along at once. Apologies if I’m boring you but I appear to have a lot to say at the moment!

Anyway….I read a brilliant blog post yesterday by Tony Butcher ….and it rang more than a few bells, in fact there was a positive symphony of bell ringing going on! ( I’m sure there is another term for mass bell ringing but symphony is the only one that springs to mind!)

I’ve always been a big fan of “keeping it real” for people like G. See my blog post on Service Speak! And, when he moved into his house we were determined it would be a home, not a service, a group home and certainly not “residential care” or “a placement”.

You see I was inspired a long time ago by a lovely lady called Jan Roast (I’m using her real name because she deserves recognition). Jan was a pioneer and thirteen years ago, using person centred planning, she used her daughters Direct Payments to enable her to have a real home, complete with all the support she needed to live there. Long before Direct Payments were common place and long before the personalisation agenda was fashionable she did what many are still apparently struggling to achieve today.

The story she told about how she went about this has inspired (and continues to inspire) lots of other parents and my personal response at the time was a bit like Andy from Little Britain…”I want that one!”

Jan is the reason I pursued the life I did for G…she was my total inspiration, my mentor and my guru (even though I know she’ll be far too modest to accept this and will be squirming when she reads)

For me one story she told stood out, and it’s one I’ve quoted ever since because it’s all about making her daughters house a home.

No notice boards (unless they are the usual ones that all families have) no signs on the door saying “Fire Exit” and “NO YELLOW BINS” 

When they (Jan and her friend Wendy) were planning their daughters move to their new home, there had been strong hints that yellow bins, the ones used to contain medical waste would be needed. Jan in her inimitable style said “Do you have yellow bins in your home?” “No” came the reply. “Then why should they have one?”

Since then I’ve heard lots of similar stories …”We need to have a cone outside the bathroom when we are cleaning” and Jan’s voice continues to be in my mind whenever I respond.

A)   “Do you have a cone outside your bathroom when you’re mopping?”

B)    “Don’t you think a cone would pose more hazards than a wet floor?”

I spoke to Jan a couple of days ago and she told me that the staff team at her daughter’s home were slightly bewildered. The Provider they are employed by is currently being taken over by another larger organisation and this new organisation had instructed that they answer the phone, stating the name of the organisation…and the former name of the organisation, plus their own name!

For the last thirteen years Jan has ensured that when they answer the phone they say…”Gemma and Katy’s home,”… Worse still the staff team had been issued with company lanyards  for their identification badges!

Lanyards...really, are you bloody kidding me!… still at least it wasn’t a uniform and I guess that’s something to be thankful for!

For some people this might all be acceptable but for anyone who truly values personalisation and who thinks that keeping it real for people with learning disabilities is the only way forward it’s certainly not. As for me, it’s a slippery slope that I for one won’t be slipping down.

[Jan’s story about how she went about all this is documented in OxFSN’s Transition Matters Guide in the chapter on Supported Living

About Oxfordshire Family Support Network

Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN) is a not-for-profit organisation run by and for family carers of people with learning disabilities – both children and adults. Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OXFSN) was set up in 2007 by family carers who wanted to use their experience to help others in the same situation, based on our belief that family carers are experts by their lived experience.
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4 Responses to Yellow Bins, Hazard Cones, Lanyards….and keeping it real!

  1. Hilary says:

    Just proves you have to keep alert, or before you know it some piece of corporate mischief will sneak under the door …

  2. Liz says:

    I always ponder the difference between living in your own home where you employ some help (maybe a great deal of it) or sleeping, eating etc. in someone else’s work-space. Personalisation has got to be about having your own home. In the days before Direct Payments I sent support staff away when they came to take my daughter out wearing a uniform. Yellow bins begone!

    • emptynestmum says:

      yes, I guess it’s difficult with health & safety rules and it also being peoples workplace. You have to make some concessions I suppose but there are limits and the drive has to be a home being home…uniforms are definitely a step too far and lanyards are a step towards that. I also recall one discussion about industrial size washing machines!! just by one with a large load capacity and put in on more than once like the rest of us have had to!

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