OXFSN is Challenging Behaviour

Working with families training for professionals


In early December we (OxFSN) ran a workshop for professionals about working with Family Carers of people with learning disabilities. This was commissioned by OCC and Oxford Health and the plan was to have a mixture of staff from both organisations and different teams. We also included 8 family carers who had attended our Family Champions course… It was great to have them there and the training wouldn’t have worked anywhere near as well without them.

Just before Christmas I got this feedback from the OCC lead who had commissioned us.

“I promised social care feedback so here it – really positive! I had the most comments about how beneficial it was to have family carers giving and participating in the training. When shall we book in another one?”

 General Comments

  • Better than I expected
  • Useful and beneficial
  • Helpful tips
  • I would recommend this training to everyone on my team, and anyone that has the opportunity to attend.
  • The highlight was having family carers there
  •  I was really grateful that I had opportunity to hear from and talk to so many carers
  • It was incredibly beneficial to have the family carers present in the training to share their own experiences with professionals.
  •  I enjoyed being able to talk to family carers on an informal basis and having the opportunity to reflect with them, and see things from their point of view.
  • I will be able to take the family carer’s views and opinions into consideration going forward with practice
  •  I thought the opportunity to meet with family carers in a more informal way, was really helpful, in understanding some of their challenges in accessing the systems.
  • It was positive having a mixture of adult social care and health colleagues in the training and I’m pleased they encouraged us to mix up when doing the different activities
  • It was good going into pairs and groups and there were a variety of activities.
  • The ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ list was also useful to share.
  • I enjoyed the task of what is working well and not working well from each person’s perspective beneficial.

 What would you take away and do differently?

  • Acknowledge emails by families
  • I will endeavour to contact family members in a timely manner even if it is to say that I will be working on their query in a few days’ time. In fact I did that during the lunchtime break
  • With all the work and cases we have to do, sometimes you can wait until you have the time to fully respond but I agree if you let families know then they won’t be ‘waiting by the phone’ or chasing up multiple times.
  • I think it is important that the professional and family work together to try and affect positive long term change. A key feeling with everyone is that ‘we are on the same side’ and I think sometimes that can be lost if the carers feel we are just there to ‘take things away’.
  • I will be a lot more careful when using certain ‘professional’ language in conversation and documents
  • I’ll consider the language I use in assessments and correspondence e.g. it’s not a ‘placement’, it’s someone’s home.
  • I will definitely be reconsidering the use of some of the language I use when writing up assessments and it re-highlighted the in-depth knowledge that families do have about the people we support…
  • The training really made me reflect on the use of “service speak” and how assessments could be written in a more personalised way.
  • Gail did not feel in assessment’s we should be using words like ‘placement’ or ‘supported living’ as it is the person’s ‘home’. However, I think we need a directive from senior management about this so we are all doing the same thing. I think there does need to be a level of professional terms etc. used.  
  • Keep being honest and transparent with families – be open about what can and cannot be done.


We also got some great suggestions about how we could improve the workshop (as this was only a pilot) and we’ll take them all on board and adapt it accordingly. But, overall I’m pretty chuffed about these comments and punched in air in delight at some of them!

The session appeared to be beneficial to everyone who attended. 21 of the 26 participants rated the workshop as excellent and the other 5 very good! And evaluations on the day were fab too and mirrored the feedback sent from OCC staff.

For those of us who are family carers these may seem pretty obvious, pretty basic acknowledgements of what needs to change. I know I’ve personally been banging on about this stuff for longer than I care to remember.  The fact is younger families coming through are still having to deal with the same issues, so despite all our efforts to date nothing much has changed. I’ve always been passionate about partnership working and what could be better than getting in a room together and learning from each other…and it really was learning from each other. It was enjoyable, it worked and hopefully we’ve made a small difference in changing attitudes and culture here in Oxfordshire as a result. I’m really looking forward to rolling it out to more staff over the coming year so watch this space!


*If anyone reading this is interested in commissioning this workshop, whether you are different Providers in Oxfordshire or work in other local authority areas then please get in touch.

Email: Gail.Hanrahan@oxfsn.org.uk



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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