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Caring and partnership

As part of our Carers Week celebrations Hardy Uppal, Service Manager for our supported living services in Staffordshire, shares her experience of caring and how partnership working between service users and staff can help improve the experience of the people we support at Cygnet.

When having a loved one in any care setting, it can be extremely daunting. As carers at Cygnet, it is our job to ensure we are always open and transparent about the person we are supporting.

It is important to work alongside each other to ensure a consistent approach is given to the people we support at all times. To facilitate open communication, we invite carers and families to CPA meetings to be involved with discussions held for the person we care for, so that everyone can be included and raise any issues or concerns. Management make sure that all families and keyworkers who cannot attend meetings or appointments are informed of outcomes via their preferred safe options.

We also enable families and friends to visit when they want to, if the person we are supporting wants this.

We faced many barriers during the peak of COVID-19; we had a lot of staff off due to contracting the virus and families were asked not to visit the service to keep staff and service users safe. To ensure families did not lose touch with their loved ones, we arranged regular FaceTimes, picnics in the garden and local walks. We created cinema nights, recreated our own version of different fast foods and organised activities at the home, which everyone enjoyed.

During CPA meetings we ensured all key workers and families were invited via Zoom so they could remain involved within the discussions.

I have worked at Cygnet since 2013 and the company has always put the people we support and their carers / families at the centre of each care package provided.

Earlier this year, a service user unfortunately lost his mother. The individual would often visit her and speak to her on the phone three times a week. The individual is very complex and has delayed processing abilities, so management explained to staff and family that we might see an increase in behaviours that challenge and made everyone aware of the potential risks.

Management, family and keyworkers worked together to create a social story (the individual’s preferred communication method) to break the news to the service user. They also created a risk assessment and action plan on how to manage his behaviours.

Management and family then discussed funeral arrangements. It was decided it was not in the service user’s best interest to attend so instead, they arranged a memorial day with a buffet and drinks and photo albums shared with the service user. Management also created a patch in the service user’s garden with a laminated picture of mum and planted some flowers. This has now been incorporated into the service user’s activity planner to go out each week to water the flowers and have a chat with mum if he wished to.

Although we have seen an increase in behaviours which challenge, with a consistent approach from the family and service, these behaviours have been managed well. Bereavement support has been requested, and the service, carers and family will continue to work together to support throughout.

I have recently moved to social care and it has been a great opportunity to see some of the most complex individuals have their own home. To see staff and families encourage and empower the people we support has been amazing. I truly am honoured to work for Cygnet.

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