How can personalisation work when people have significant disabilities and don’t use words?

It is easy to think that one-page profiles, person-centred reviews and Individual Service Funds (ISFs) can only work if people can talk and tell you what matters to them.

If people don’t use words to speak, the same processes can work just as well, but we need to listen differently.

We need to listen to the person’s behaviour, and learn with others who know the person well, to understand what matters to them, how they want to be supported and what is working and not working for them. We also need to start in a different place – with communication charts. This person-centred thinking tool is a way to think together and then record what we think the person is communicating, and what we need to do to respond to this. We can then test this out in practice to see if the ‘best guesses’ are right or not. To do this usually means getting together the people who know the person best – probably family and staff – and sharing what each person understands about the individual’s communication, then recording this on the communication chart.

This is also a way to start a one-page profile – with people sharing their best guesses, and checking out with each other how they know this and, if necessary, how to test it out.

A person-centred review brings together the people who know and love the person. If the person cannot tell us directly what is working and not working for them, we rely on the people who know them to make educated guesses, based on the person’s behaviour and learning from the communication chart.

 

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