09 December 2019

Together, We Reach Potential #PotentialTogether

Share the successes of our recent Social Care Seminar

Every Social Care team member agrees – the reward and satisfaction they get from the work they do, and seeing the difference they help bring to the lives of our service users, is priceless. But sometimes it’s only when we get together and collectively share our experiences, learnings and stories that we see the full, bigger picture. This is exactly what happened at our recent Social Care – Potential Together Seminar, held in Limerick on 30 May. Here, the teams from our services came together to showcase their work and enjoy informative addresses from leading names in our industry.

The day-long event was attended by Social Care workers from our residences, along with Service Managers, Community Support Workers and Multi-Disciplinary Team members. Each person shared a different experience, but all were united in one mission: to celebrate the innovations and progress we have achieved to date.

Honouring the Value of Life

Our Head of Social Care, Sinead Butler, opened the day by outlining some of the milestones of the past year. We are hugely proud to have opened three new houses in the past year:  The Meadows (County Cork), Bell Tree (County Clare) and Verna House (County Kilkenny). But it is, without a doubt, our people that have made so much possible, and Sinead reminded the seminar attendees of the key principle that drives us all:

“Every life is valuable. From the people we serve, to their families, it is our mission to help them reach their potential. Where traditional care stops, we start.”

Along with our unique team of  driven, dedicated, experienced and expert professionals – our ethos of Person-Centred support helps us deliver game-changing experiences.  Our MD, Laura Keane, spoke about how ‘person-centred planning’ is implemented across services, and is expressed in our core beliefs and behaviours:  individuality, equality, respect, dignity, empowerment, choice, inclusion and active citizenship.

Innovation in Action

But of course actions always speak louder than words – and the seminar truly brought to life the many ways we are changing the face of Social Care in Ireland. The Innovation Awards 2019 were put in place to honour the progressive spirit of Social Care, and different team members shared details of the exciting initiatives they have launched in the last year. Each one showed so  clearly the extra miles Social Care  team workers are prepared to go to deliver better experiences:

Our Verna House Team shared the work they have undertaken to help establish a culture of partnership with families – through training, family engagement forums and family workshops.  Helping our service users get involved in their communities is also an important part of what we do, and Verna House explained the success they have enjoyed as a result of their ‘Community Integration – Football for All initiative.

The Ard na Gaoithe team shared the successes they are enjoying due to their focus on ‘Total Communications’. By adopting techniques such as applying universal visuals, and learning the Lamh sign-language, the team is ensuring that there is clarity and consistency in communication, at all times.

A further highlight on the day was the presentation of the Green Sustainability Award – a special accolade honouring Bell Tree resident, Jack Garvin. Demonstrating his passion for his community, Jack proactively decided to collect rubbish in his local area of Westbury, prompting hugely-positive feedback from residents.

Reaching Goals – Every Day

Working with behaviours of concern was the theme of several presentations on the day, as Support Managers detailed how they are applying Multi-Element Behaviour Support (MEBS). When a service user acts out behaviours of concern, such as hyper activism and disruptive actions, this can threaten their physical safety – and the well-being of those around them. It can also limit the service user’s access to community facilities.  MEBS takes a holistic approach to understanding the behaviour – why it occurs, what are the triggers and what is the service user trying to communicate.  Through a combined strategy of environment adaptation, skills teaching, direct interventions and reactive strategies, our teams are seeing evidence of significant reductions in disruptive behaviours.

Niahm O’Connell and Rebecca O’Brien from our Kerry service, have been working with an 18-year old resident with intellectual disability and autism. His behaviours have a hugely negative effect on his school day, limit his social activities and interfere with his important home and respite routines.

“The MEBS Plan we have developed identifies the long- and short-term goals we wanted to achieve for the service users, together with the interventions and strategies needed to help reduce challenging behaviour.  The results have been significant: a 32% decrease in challenging behaviour.”

Perhaps Social Care’s Positive Behaviour Therapist, Padraig Walsh, summed it up best of all on the day:

“Never in my experience have I  seen the quality of projects presented by Social Care.”

The Value of Play

Of course no day is complete without play – and we were fortunate enough to include in our seminar a fun and illuminating interactive session – presented by Play Therapist, Madelaine Grant.  From business owners to the management team and Support Worker teams alike – everyone embraced the spirit of play with joy, and got down and dirty with paint, sand and musical instruments, to experience, first-hand, how important play and fun experiences are, for all of our service users.

It’s days like this that excite, challenge and motivate every single one of us – and we’re already planning and looking forward to the next Seminar.