There are some conversations that change everything. The 3 minute conversation I had with David Behan when he was the Department of Health’s director general of social care, was one of those. I met him at the annual ADASS conference. I was with Steve Scown and colleagues from Dimensions, and we were launching a book. The book was the culmination of two years work, exploring what personalisation could mean for 6 people living together in a group home, using the principles of Individual Service Funds. The book was a summary of the difference it had made – to the people who loved together, the team and their manager and the organisation. I had a copy to give David Behan.
David graciously accepted the book and listened to my well-rehearsed and practiced 2 minute spiel about it. Here is the 10 minute film version. He listened with interest, and then said something along the lines of:
“It is great to do this with 6 people, come back to me when you have done this with twenty people.’
I am sure it was not as blunt as that, but that is what I heard, and the sound of my bubble being well and truly popped. But I made this my challenge.
The next week I contacted the Director of Social Care in Stockport (then Terry Dafter) where I live, to explain this challenge and to see if we could do something about it together. Long story short, we did, in a care home for 43 people with dementia. Here is a summary.
The manager of Bruce Lodge is Lisa, and I saw her again on Sunday. I am part of May’s Community Circle, and since the project was completed, about two years ago, May and I have been singing together with Stockport Community Choir. On Sunday we were going out for tea and cakes, and Lisa opened the door to me as I went to pick up May. She said she was still doing everything that we started, and only last week had been updating six one-page profiles.
I will have a copy of the book that describes that journey, and the difference it made to the people who live their, the staff, and the manager too. I am meeting David at EachStep, which is launched today. This is another step on the journey for me. Now we are going from 6 people, to 43 people to 64 people. Together with Community Integrated Care we are demonstrating another step, where everyone who will be living at EachStep will have as much choice and control as we can achieve within a care home, and have a Community Circle to keep them connected to friends, family, their community, hobbies and passions.
I am looking forward to seeing David Behan again. Would as selfie be too much? Will there be another challenge?
I did get the selfie, and David mentioned the book in his speech. I did get the new challenge too – for EachStep to be outstanding in every way.