Making the most of individual time for people living in care homes

23 August 2016

By Gill Bailey

We're continuing our work with EachStep Blackburn, exploring how we can create the best possible personalised support in their residential care home supporting people living with dementia.

This means people who live at the home are supported to make their own choices about the basic things in life - for example when they want to get up, when they want to have breakfast, and how they want to spend their time. In last month's blog I talked about developing One Page Profiles and the difference this can make to how someone is supported day-to-day.

As well as this, it's vital that people also have the opportunity to be a part of bigger activities that really matter to them.

EachStep are introducing this in two key ways:

  • Everyone has an ‘individual support allocation’ of two hours per month to be supported in a way they choose, and
  • Each person has the opportunity to do more of the things hat matter to them through EachStep’s partnership with Community Circles (you can read more about this on their blog here).

We are now introducing the dedicated one-to-one time at EachStep. Each person will decide what they would like to spend their time doing, when and where it will happen – inside or outside of the home, and with which team member. This may sound impossible in a care home setting, but early work reveals that it can work with leadership and a commitment to completely re-think how staff time is used, and therefore how rotas work, with a focus on what really matters to people at its heart.

Planning individual support happens at the settling-in meeting

EachStep have agreed an individual support allocation of time of two hours per month for each person living here. This may not seem like a lot, but it does make a difference, and we are looking to extend the time people have to do things they really enjoy, that require one-to-one support, through Community Circles too.

Approximately 6-8 weeks after they move in here, we meet with people living at EachStep at what we call the settling-in meeting. By this point we’ve already spent time with them before they arrived and also through the ‘warm welcome’ stage, which means they will already have a One Page Profile in place, have had individual time explained to them and learnt about Community Circles, as well as other things mentioned in the diagram below. (Click on the image for a larger version)

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The settling-in meeting is an opportunity to sit down and review how things are going and talk about who the person wants as their named team member. This is also the point in the journey where we plan individual support with the person, deciding how they want to use their two hours each month doing something they enjoy.

Today we met with Joan and her family. Joan’s sister Laura and her husband Tom came to her meeting. Helen Sanderson Associates is working with EachStep to incorporate person-centred approaches and person-centred thinking tools into the way they work, and at this settling-in meeting they were as valuable as ever, providing structure and enabling good conversation on which we could build our ideas.

It was a very different kind of meeting. Joan was able to contribute in her own way as much as she could and we used the ‘Good Day/Bad Day’ tool to talk about what makes a good and bad day for her.

We also used the Working / Not Working person-centred thinking tool to look at what was working and not working for Joan from her own and from her family’s perspective, as well as from the perspective of the staff team.

From those conversations we gathered more detailed information to build on Joan’s One Page Profile, which had been growing and evolving since we first met with her before she moved in. We also learn more detailed information around how best to support her around her needs and this was added to the care and support plans. Asking different questions led to different conversations that led to a more thorough understanding about what mattered to Joan and how she wants to be supported. This is the information we need to ensure a person’s support is tailored to their needs and aspirations, and that is the very bedrock of personalisation.

Through the conversations, which were guided by the tools we used, Joan chose to use her individual time to go out to a restaurant for a meal each month with Karen, and this happened last Sunday for the first time – which is really fantastic! It just goes to show that with some person-centred thinking, flexibility in the way we work and a commitment to really listening to what matters we can demonstrate what is possible at EachStep Blackburn.

We also thought about how a Community Circle could enhance the quality of Joan’s life without using staff time. Joan is keen to have a Community Circle to explore with her how dogs can be part of her life and to be able to walk with them along the canal on a sunny day. If we can get this up and running using her existing relationship networks, through the use of a Circle, and keep it going alongside her meals out with Karen, we’ll be making a real difference to her happiness and wellbeing.

What have I learned?

The importantance of community partners – like Community Circles – and building great and trusting relationships with others who are better placed than us to make some things happen. We cannot deliver great things alone.

Time to sit and simply ‘be’ with people is vital.

That every time someone who provides support passes by a someone who lives at the home, they can make a connection with them; and this is really important to the majority of people at EachStep.

To always listen well to what people living here are telling us.

That getting the small things right matters and the whole team at EachStep are paying great attention to this.


To learn more about how we can work with care homes to provide support in personalising services and incorporate person-centred thinking tools, get in touch through our contact us page.

You can also exploring our e-learning about Personalisation and Dementia, or our Personalisation and Dementia courses.

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