In 2004 my daughter Laura was six years old and came home from school in tears. This led to the first one-page profile, and I found myself sharing this story with 40 inspectors from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales a few weeks ago. They wanted to know about the one-page profiles that we had been introducing with commissioners, the contracts team, home care organisations and care homes across Flintshire. The inspectors had also started to develop their own one-page profiles, and wanted to learn more about how to use them, but first they wanted to know where they had come from.
In 2004 Laura had been in Year 2 at the local primary school for three weeks when she came home one day in tears, saying the teacher had told her off for wearing the wrong trousers in PE.
When we went to see Laura’s teacher, she explained that she had not told Laura off, but had pointed out that if she only had shorts, and not jogging bottoms, then her legs would get cold. She also said that she had not really been able to get to know Laura, as she is quiet in class.
We decided that we needed to help the teacher to learn more about Laura – and quickly. At that time I was the Department of Health’s expert advisor in person-centred planning, and I knew this could be a helpful approach, but I also knew that teachers would not have the time to read the detailed plans we were using. So, I created a one-page version for Laura – a one-page profile. At first we called it a one-page plan, but quickly realised that was wrong, as all plans should have actions. Instead, this was a person-centred summary, a profile of who Laura is and how to support her.
The first part of a one-page profile is an appreciation – what people like or admire about the child. We involved Laura’s extended family in contributing to this. It was lovely for Laura to hear what her family likes and admires about her. Then, over a hot chocolate in a café, Laura and I thought about what was important to her (the second section of a one-page profile): her yellow teddy Sunny who slept on her bed, her three cats, the stick insects and wondering if their eggs would hatch. The third section of a one-page profile is about good support, and we recorded what we know as her parents about the best ways to help and supporter her – recognising that she finds change difficult and needs lots of reassurance, and that she can perceive a small negative comment as a big telling off. Laura drew a picture of herself for the background of the profile and we made an appointment to share it with her teacher.
‘This would have been very useful to have had at the beginning of the year,’ she said. She talked about how helpful this information would be at some of the important transition times, like children coming from nursery into school, and moving from class to class. Here is Laura and her Dad talking about her one-page profile.
So each year we updated Laura’s profile with her and her teacher, and Laura drew a new picture or chose a photo of herself, and her one-page profile helped her move from class to class. Here is one of her more recent one-page profiles, ten years later.
Back when Laura was six, and I was nervously sharing her first one-page profile with her teacher, I would not have believed in a couple of years every child at the school would have had a one-page profile and had even made a film about it. Now in 2016 many hundreds of people would have created one-page profiles – in schools, care homes, offices, hospitals – and that they would have become a powerful and valuable tool in giving people choice and control in many situations. The Social Care Institute for Excellence have an award winning web-resource that supports people to develop their own one-page profile. There is also a website where you can see 100 one-page profiles and read about the difference they have, and later this year we will be able to share the research that demonstrates that they make it more likely that people have greater choice, and the positive impact on relationships.
In Flintshire, one-page profiles are part of a cultural and system-wide change that is being introduced in services for older people in response to the new Welsh Social Care and Wellbeing Act that will come into force in April. The act requires that we understand what matters to people, and one-page profiles are a way to deliver this. We need powerful, simple ways to clearly communicate what matters, and now, with Max Neil and colleagues, we are exploring what one-page of information could mean at the end of our lives as well.