Theory and Practice: A student’s experience of using One Page Profiles

18 May 2016

In this guest post, Social Work student Janet O'Rourke talks about the experience of applying person-centred approaches in a real life setting when her stepdad is unexpectedly admitted to hospital.

I’m a second year undergraduate Social Work student at the University of Central Lancashire. As well as exploring Social Work theory, this year took an unexpected twist that has given me the opportunity to see just how important person-centred thinking can be in practice.

A few months ago we studied Personalisation and Citizenship taught by the inspirational Ali Gardner. The module gave me the confidence to carry on learning to be the Social Worker I want to be, as well as the opportunity to explore lots of different person-centred tools.

What I didn’t know was that I was going to be able to start using the tools so quickly!

One Page Profiles and my stepdad

Bryan and my mum

Bryan and my mum

My stepdad Bryan – who is 84 – was rushed into hospital in March. He had his right leg amputated above the knee. Over the last two months, Bryan has been on nearly every ward in our local NHS trust.

At one point in his care he was rushed to Accident and Emergency, then transferred to the Medical Assessment Unit. A normal stay on the MAU is 10 hours, but Bryan spent three days there.

One afternoon I went to visit at 2pm. His lunch was still sat on his table, the main course untouched, and the majority of his chocolate pudding down his top.

You could sense the frenzied energy of the ward, and the staff were really stretched. Due the frenetic environment, staff were missing simple details like what Bryan liked to eat, or that he was partially sighted, so couldn’t see what he was eating. We had verbally informed staff of his needs, however you never saw the same member of staff twice.

That’s when I had the lightbulb moment to develop a One Page Profile with Bryan.

Bryan, my mum and I sat down together, and worked out what was most important. What did we want people meeting Bryan for the first to know ‘at a glance’? We agreed on contact telephone numbers for immediate family, and how we were related to Bryan. We included details such as Bryan being partially-sighted, and recorded how this would mean he would need assistance with choosing a menu for the next day. We also noted that he had to have salt on everything savoury, sugar on his cornflakes and that he only liked white bread. These choices were frowned upon by a health-conscious sister on the ward. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her that when he was well he could eat his own body weight in KitKats in one week! However in Bryan’s words ‘At 84, you are not going to change me, I don’t want that brown cardboard bread rubbish’

The profile sits in the front of his medical files. Every time we see a new face supporting Bryan on the ward, we ask them to take a minute to read the one page profile. The staff that have cared for Bryan have made a real effort to accommodate his dietary preferences. Bryan has also accepted that after 14 years of going without an eye test, it’s about time he had his eyes tested as he wants to be as independent as possible.

Bryan is about to move into residential rehabilitation. As a family we are happy that if we can’t be with him when he transfers to the rehabilitation unit, staff will be able to get to know ‘Our Bryan’ quickly. Bryan is a really proud man, so the one page profile tells a thousand words without him needing to utter a single one.


To learn more about One Page Profiles, visit our One Page Profiles resource page or explore our person-centred thinking tools e-learning at HSA Online Learning.

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