Family Champions & Cake

Since January this year we (OxFSN) have been running a course for family carers of children and adults with learning disabilities. The course was called ‘Creating Family Champions’ and the aim was to work with families to help them better understand person centred thinking, planning and approaches, as well as the new legislation -The Children and Families Act and The Care Act 2014.

The course has been funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and it’s our first accredited course with the Open College Network. A big thing for us as a small charity and an overview of the course is here. We were also incredibly lucky to have the support of a local Community Care Lawyer, Cathy Score who provided a great insight into the new legislation and delivered this in two of our sessions.

I love working with other family carers and it was great to see a range of family members with relatives of all ages attend the course. Some had done some person centred planning before but for the majority it was their first real insight… let’s just say they all ‘got it’ – families usually do!

Family champions 1

One of family champions 5our other aims (hence the name of the course) was to inspire and encourage family carers to join us and increase our capacity, something we’ve always struggled with, as many user led charities like ours often do. Even before the course finished we heard from participants what they were doing to spread the person centred ‘virus’….go out and infect we said and they did!

One mum delivered a talk on one page profiles, shared her experiences and what she’d learned in the course and showed this film to her son’s school. Another, used and shared what she’d learned to support other parents to fill in the ‘all about me’ section in the new Education, Health and Care plan (with help from our new guidance – available on our website soon

family champions 3

At the end of the course and as part of their homework, everyone was asked to do a one page profile for themselves and/or their relative. It was fantastic to see the quality of what they produced.

family champions 2

However, this email from one of the parents who attended the course kind of sums up the benefits of person centred approaches and the difference it can make to families…

“I think you have given me back my little boy. Person centred planning has just freed me to get on with being a parent who loves and cares for their child. 

 What’s more my husband really gets it! He is utterly mystified by ‘services’ health, education and social care – being the main breadwinner he’s not often dealt with the minutiae of forms, reports, meetings, assessments that I have become so immersed in over the years – veering between ; compliance (we need the money/service), rage (bloody hell why can’t they even get T’s name right) to despair ( I will never be free of all this – I can’t die because no-one else will be able to deal with all this admin… but I might as well as all I ever do is admin). However, person centred planning made sense to him in seconds (I think he now doesn’t get why the whole world doesn’t do it all the time, everywhere).

 This means that our family is stronger – all able to pull in the same direction. In terms of services/interventions/offers of kindly meant inappropriate help –  I can now step over them, steer around them and just ignore the stuff T doesn’t want or need and really feel confident that it is the right thing to do. But, I can say actually what he’d really like is … this.

So we have a plan which this weekend to sit around the kitchen table with lots of snacks and drinks – all 5 of us – and start getting on paper T’s plan.

For me, well… job satisfaction doesn’t get any better than this. To celebrate our last session, courtesy of a future family champion….. we had cake… and it was delicious!! 


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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