Eleanor Broadbent, Equality Diversity and Client Involvement Officer
Lyndsay Swales, Quality and Safety Lead
Lyndsay and I travelled to the North East this week to visit staff and clients in Durham, Seaham, Gateshead and the Newcastle area to help us promote our new Client Involvement project. Last week we travelled to meet clients in learning disability and mental health support services in Bradford and Kirklees.
These trips were important to us. We knew it would be exciting to have conversations about the project and visit services that we hadn’t visited before as well as some that we had. It always means a lot to visit people in the place that they live as it helps us to understand their daily life, motivations and needs. It is never time wasted and always a pleasure, even if clients may not go on to join the project.
We are led by the clients and we encourage them to steer the direction of our time together whenever we meet with them. We especially enjoy finding out about who they are and what they like – from squirrels and Candy Crush to Blue Peter and snooker. We joined tenant meetings, enjoyed a very special house tour and met lots of different people over a couple of days on the road.
At Marwood Park, Deputy Manager Nicola led us to the Sensory Garden which is shared by all of the people who live at the service and has been expertly created by talented staff members. The courtyard has been completely transformed by sensory displays for touch, sight and smell in wonderful features that make it a welcoming and stimulating space to relax. We wanted to share this photograph of the word ‘Independence’ because it’s so important to the people that are supported by St Anne’s every day. This word also reflects the ambitions that we have for the Client Involvement Experts by Experience project and we know that it means different things to different people.
- Being independent is being heard
- Being independent is trying something new
- Being independent is being trusted and valued
Our ambition is to promote all of these areas as we embark on the project. Supporting a new forum group for clients to be the experts of the organisation is incredibly exciting to us and our motivation to make it work, even if things aren’t always straightforward will not fade. We are privileged to work on this adventure together with the support and encouragement of our colleagues and the people we’ve met in services.
This blog is the first in a series from Eleanor and Lyndsay on Client Involvement. As we blog about our progress in supporting St Anne’s first ever Experts by Experience group, we’ll be reflecting on successes and challenges for inclusion, advocacy and the service user experience. We hope you’ll read along with us.