Introducing person-centred practices in Mental Health services.

07 April 2015 | By Emily McArdle

Why we must do more and how we can get started using one-Page Profiles.

Let’s start with a few questions. If I needed your support to live my life, what would you need to know about me in order to support me well? How would you find out about me? Who would you ask? What sort of things would you expect my friends and family to tell you? Finally, if you wrote a list of the people you wanted to talk to about me, starting with the most important, at which point would you think to ask my doctor?

I would expect most of you would ask my wife, children, friends and family before you thought to consider a medical view of my support needs. And I’m very glad that you would! But if I had a Mental Health problem serious enough to require paid support, I suspect the medical opinion would be the first point of contact. How would being assessed in this way impact on me?

I think my support would be less effective, would be less helpful in terms of my recovery, would be likely to be more restrictive and ultimately would lead to me requiring more support than I otherwise might.

Having worked in Mental Health services for longer than I care to admit, my view is that we are still far too tied to a medical, risk based approach to the people we support. We certainly ask questions. We ask things like ‘What is his history?’, ‘What problem’s does she cause?’, ‘What meds is he on’, ‘What are her ‘triggers’?’ and ‘What risk does he pose?’. We often ask these questions far sooner than attempting to find out about the person, what they want and how we can help.

Adopting a more person-centred approach in Mental Health services is critical to increasing their effectiveness. And lets be clear, a person-centred approach is not simply asking people what they want or offering choices – that’s just being polite. A person-centred approach means that all support is guided by what the person wants out of life, and that services are structured in order to make this possible.

So let’s look at a different approach, using one-page profiles as a starting point to developing truly person-centred support.

1 Page Profile - Rob Michael-Phillips-Heather-page-001

This is me and this is my one-page profile which I completed as part of the recruitment process when joining HSA. One-page profiles are a means of gathering and sharing important information about a person, in order to be able to work with that person as effectively as possible.

One-page profiles contain three sections. The first is an appreciation section, which describes what people like and admire about a person. The second section details what is important to a person and the third shows what support someone needs, described in his or her own words.

Why do we gather this information? Purely and simply because we need it.

We are all familiar with the idea of building on strengths, so the appreciation section gives a great insight into what a person’s strengths are. I’d argue that you cannot hope to support someone effectively if you don’t understand their motivations, priorities and what makes them tick, so knowing what is important to a person is vital. Finally, if we are going to provide good support, then how can we possibly do so without knowing that person’s view of their own support needs?

One-page profiles can be completed by the person themselves – as I did with mine –they can be completed as part of an assessment or a meeting with a member of staff, in a meeting with peers, with family members or even through phone conversations. Completing a one-page Profile would normally take around an hour including discussions and write up, so it’s possible within a regular 1:1 session.

The primary use of one-page profiles is to gather and share information about the people we support so that staff can know what they need to know, and that this knowledge is easy to share.

A comment you sometimes hear about one-page profiles is that ‘we know all this information about the people we support’.  If this is true then this is fantastic news! In my experience however, this information is only known about some of the people we support. By some staff. Eventually.

The biggest strength of using one-page profiles is that they allow people to know this information for all the people we support, to know it quickly and to make this readily available and easy to share with others.

Clearly you don’t HAVE to have a one-page profile in order to work in a person-centred way. But I would argue that you do HAVE to know the information contained on a one-page profile in order to do so. I’ve not come across a more succinct way of gathering and sharing key information about a person.

In addition to the core purpose of one-page profiles, I think there are particular applications that make them highly suitable for Mental Health services. I’ll be exploring these applications in my next blog, where we’ll look at using one-page profiles to build self-esteem, to enhance an assessment process and use in Peer Support.

In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss using one-page profiles in Mental Health services then please get in contact with me. My e-mail is You can follow me on Twitter @RobHSAUK



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