Working with Families (part 2): The good stuff!

When G came to stay this weekend I opened his suitcase to find a box of chocolates and a card.

The card said…

To Mum, just a little thank you and appreciation for everything you do for me, lots of love G.”

With an added…

“P.S. Thought we could share the chocs over a film.” (No option there really, he spotted them before I did!)

Now, of course I knew this didn’t come from G himself and when I took him home the next day I asked one of his lovely staff team (S) if it was her who did this…

“Yes” she replied “We all talked about it and we know G can’t tell you himself but he loves it when you pick him up and gets so excited when you come to get him, we thought if he could tell you he would, so we did it instead”.           

I was so touched by this lovely gesture… It made me cry (In a good way)

photo (94)

Along with some great examples of staff working well with families at Dimensions I often use G’s staff team and my relationship with them as an example of good practice. I don’t think I tell them often enough how much I appreciate them so I thought I’d blog about it and tell you too!

G has lived in his house for over four years now and we, the families, have all worked hard with both the management and the staff team to create a positive relationship, built on trust. It began right at the start, it’s continued and it’s a “two way street”… i.e. the provider organisation has worked equally as hard to work well with us too!

I’ve always believed that a good relationship can only happen when there is trust and trust can only be developed when the following two main ingredients are present.

  • Good, open and honest communication
  • Mutual respect and understanding

I get this in bucket loads with G’s staff team (and Provider organisation)

I get regular emails with pictures telling me what sort week he’s had and what he’s been doing. They contact me when they are having difficulties with his behaviour or he has health issues, because they recognise I may be able to help and value my input. They chat and tell me about the things he’s been doing when I pick him up (if there’s time and he hasn’t rushed out to the car) and when I drop him off (if he lets me and doesn’t push me out the door). Basically they don’t just contact me when things are going wrong or if he’s unwell…I get to hear the good stuff too. e.g. from a recent email “just to note to let you know that’s G’s been in a great mood this week… and the house has been filled with laughter!”

They totally “get him” and what makes him tick and they obviously like him (I can tell this by the way they talk about him, how they smile when they talk about him to me and because they’ve filled in a “like and admire” section in his person centred plan!)

When his Dad died they went out of their way to support me and him by offering to bring him back home or collect him, support him at the funeral and even offered to visit home with him to help out (because they knew how hard it was for me in the early weeks and months to have him home on my own)…Kindness I’ll never forget!

When I went on holiday recently they offered to pick him up for me to give me extra time to pack rather than me have to drive him back. Nothing seems to be too much trouble and they are always happy to accommodate my sometimes last minute changes to plans…and whenever I visit to pick him up or collect him there is a cheerful and friendly greeting!

Birthday cards, Christmas and Easter cards are sent to sisters, grandparents etc (far more regularly or consistently than I sent/send them!) presents are bought for his sisters and me for Birthdays and Christmas…Mothers days flowers/cards and Fathers day cards/gifts have been regular too over the years!

The senior management within the organisation, manager and team leader of the house meet with the families every two months (this was monthly in the first year or so) and we discuss staffing, activities and other issues (like the recent neighbour problems). We meet in the evening and sandwiches, cakes and drinks are provided. When things go wrong, which they inevitably do, they discuss with us and keep us fully informed of their actions to put things right…basically they involve us as we want to be involved and appreciate our involvement!

None of this is real “rocket science” its basic stuff really and based on mutual respect and understanding.

I totally respect what they do…and let’s face it they do it for limited remuneration!  I’m not sure I could do what they do…it’s easy to love and care for your own child, deal with personal care and all the other stuff that parents deal with but you have to be a pretty special person to do this for a job!

They apparently respect me too. They have an appreciation, understanding and recognition of how important my relationship with G is, know he’s still my baby (as are his sisters by the way…before anyone makes the assumption that I’m not “letting go” or letting him grow up!) and I love him like any other parent loves their kid…and they demonstrate this in everything thing they do and the way they work with me.

Of course we could put all of this down to luck but I like to think it’s more than just luck…all good relationships need to be worked on.

The results are well worth the effort this takes! …for me… this means Happy G, happy Mum, happy staff..

Oh and sometimes you get chocolates!…

And…We really enjoyed them!

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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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6 Responses to Working with Families (part 2): The good stuff!

  1. Brigid says:

    Yet again another brilliantly written and moving bblog Gail I hope & pray for our daughter will continue to get that kind of love care & support too .We have been so lucky and work hard to be a big part of Ella’s team It makes for a wonderful partnership
    Hope those chocolates keep coming – that was so lovely

  2. Caroline Hunter says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog Gail – it’s so positive, and so fantastic that G is obviously so happy and settled. What a wonderful staff team, but bet they too think you are wonderful by return. It has given us much needed hope for K’s future, that things will get sorted out, and that we will move forward soon. Thank you! xx

  3. speakingeye says:

    It’s not luck. My son is supported by Dimensions too and my experience, since March when he had to move from where he was living for the previous 10 years, echoes yours. They are a not-for-profit organisation – that’s the significant difference from the previous outfit who ultimately failed to support him.
    It has been a revelation – they have put such effort into getting to know and understand my son, and us – we all get the weekly emails too – and are told about the glitches as well as the good things, which means I feel that I can trust them.
    Dimensions’ commitment to involving relatives at all levels isn’t rocket science, but I wish it was the norm. My son is 37 and this is the first time that I have felt that I have an honest and open relationship with the organisation providing his support. It is a huge relief.
    I have taken early retirement from the NHS so have more time, and have been involved in recruitment interviewing which has been great – meeting staff in another context and being able to support them! I am about to join their Family Forum, which meets quarterly and reports to Dimensions’ Board.
    I have to keep pinching myself!

    Best wishes

    • emptynestmum says:

      Thanks Fran, G isn’t actually supported by Dimensions, we use a small provider in Oxon called Style acre. He was already there and settled when I started working for Dimensions. As One of the Family Consultants though this is really good to hear so thanks for sharing

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