Training person-centred review facilitators to be game changers

24 April 2017 | By Amanda George

In this guest post, Virginia – a Personalisation Consultant for Sense – shares her experiences about training people to facilitate person-centred reviews, and how this has meant that the people they support are better able to set the direction for their own lives.


I have just spent the morning working with a couple of colleagues to finalise a rewrite of Sense’s Induction Training. The changes took cognisance of the learning we have achieved over recent years, which means that new staff now enter a workplace where Person Centred support is ‘the way we do things around here’. Our starting platform is higher than it was and we are building our shared knowledge about Personalisation.

At the end of the meeting my colleague said how much she had enjoyed the morning – we had been ‘energy angels’ not ‘energy vampires’, we had shared and given each other energy rather than sapped it. I want to tell you about the ‘energy angels’ I have worked with over the past year. They are my co-trainers and the 60 Facilitators we have trained.

Sense supports people who have sensory loss. We support people in residential accommodation, in their own home, in college, resource centres, sometimes 24/7 and sometimes just for a few hours a week. We calculated that there are about 600 Person Centred Reviews that we are involved in, most of them as the Facilitator.

We realised that if we were able to facilitate great Reviews we would be able to support people in a more person-centred way. So, alongside some other actions, we decided to train around 60 Facilitators. It seemed to me that this would be the game changer. I attended the first Facilitator Train the Trainer course run by HSA, and over the course of a few months put the learning together.

We invited people to apply to be Review Facilitators. They needed to demonstrate a value base, interpersonal skills and prior learning that was clearly person-centred. We didn’t want the role to be job-associated, so we aimed to attract colleagues from diverse teams and levels of responsibilities. The training lasted one day and built on the previous one-day learning on Personalisation.

People whose access to information and communication is limited by vision and hearing require creative and very focused support. We  developed some specific person-centred thinking tools to help incorporate our learning about vision, hearing, touch and how people best make sense or their world. We shared knowledge and practice on how best to prepare and involve people in their Reviews.

We were also mindful of the support needs of the new Facilitators, not just in relation to process and content but also in relation to communication and access needs.

We have written three booklets that relate person-centred principles and processes, person-centred thinking tools and facilitating person-centred reviews to supporting people with sensory loss and we have buddied our new facilitators with our most experienced practice development staff.

We are also promoting an internal community of practice. It is hosted by our intranet and apart from a whole range of resources, we have team activities called ‘practice makes perfect’, our quality assessment called ‘from good to great’ and all of our Facilitators post their One-Page Profiles.

So where do the ‘energy angels’ come in? The positivity, excitement and wealth of creative ideas that began with the Facilitator training has been snowballing with each subsequent Review. I’m sure my colleagues are a little perplexed by being referred to as angels but they will recognise the energy.

We have acknowledged that the Facilitators are the game changers. If they work well then the direction of our efforts becomes clear and more importantly the people we support can set the direction for their own lives. The magic ingredient is the energy, from the people we support, their families, the support staff and certainly the Facilitators.

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