Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Personalisation and Being Human

You would probably agree that there is a part of you that enjoys time alone to relax and reflect yet at times you enjoy the company of others and, if you were being honest with yourself you do, perhaps, enjoy the attention others give you.

Perhaps, at times, you feel that you are not using your full potential in some aspect of your life and that those you are with fail to understand how much more you can offer and improve yourself.

Maybe there is a hidden part of you, one that you can’t reveal to anyone that holds a regret in life, a choice made wrong which, on one hand, is seemingly trivial yet on the other is one that has lived with you for a long time.

We are all the same, and the above holds true for most of us but the degree to which it applies may vary, yet they are fundamental part of our make-up.

Yet do we pay enough attention to these aspects of being human when delivering social care?

Personalisation is the key to delivering good quality social care yet the key to personalisation is understanding what it is to be human and understanding how we tick. Unfortunately the basic training of care work does not include this aspect of understanding which is so vital if quality care is to be universally delivered.

Core training consists of health & safety, infection control, food hygiene, etc. The Skills for Care Common Induction Standards go further but beyond induction training how much training do the majority of care workers get in understanding the individuals they are working with.

There is, of course, a tendency to stereotype people who need social care services (as in all aspects of life) using generic labels such as ‘learning disability’ ‘dementia’ ‘old’ and so on. Such labels have their uses and stereotyping is a human trait which allows us to form our own identity but in delivering care services and treating people with dignity and respect such labels represent just one aspect of who the person is. Although this one aspect may have significant impact on other areas of their life the person who needs social care services is still a person with the many individual quirks, nuances and subtleties that make us all slightly different but with the same underlying aspects of what it is to be human.

Obviously the immediate tool for learning about a person in order to provide personalised care and support is communication. Effective communication is essential, especially about listening to the person about their likes and dislikes but it needs to go further to understand a person’s desires  dreams and hopes. For example if we want to promote a person’s self-esteem we have to understand what that means to the individual, self-esteem involves personal beliefs and emotions not merely the likes and dislikes which are the standard part of any care plan.

Being a person is a complex thing and delivering quality, personalised care and support relies on understanding the individual not merely their personal preferences but also their values and beliefs which form their individuality. Those responsible for delivering care and support services are those on the front line of care and it is essential that their training includes more than the safety and physiological aspects of life.

You would probably agree that if you needed social care services that you would want services that understood what you needed, delivered by people who know when you need company or when you need to be alone, people who knew how to motivate you yet understand when you may be pushed too far, people who understand what dignity and respect mean to you. Isn’t only right then that we should apply this principle to all social care users.