Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

One-page profiles in action

Steve Scown DimensionsLast week, a website launched that celebrated the successes of one-page profiles. In this guest blog, Steve Scown, chief executive of Dimensions, talks about their impact on his organisation.

As someone who believes firmly in leading by example, I developed my one-page profile – a tool that encapsulates information about a person on one sheet of paper – some time ago and asked my colleagues to help me. By engaging with them in this way I had to think more deeply than I had before about what I needed from the people around me and what was really important for me, as opposed to a long nice-to-have list.

At Dimensions we have been working towards becoming a more person-centred organisation for a number of years. As a leading not-for-profit provider of care and support services we have recognised the responsibility upon us not to only provide person-centred services for the people with learning disabilities and autism we support, but also to share our learning across the sector and other industries. One-page profiles have proved to be a powerful tool in helping us fulfil these aspirations.

My own introduction to one page profiles came as a result of our work with Helen Sanderson Associates and their potential use across many aspects of our business was soon evident.

After I had completed my profile, it was posted on our website along with profiles for our executive team and members of our board. I have been struck by the number of companies that have remarked how useful these were in helping them understand how to engage more effectively with us as individuals and as a company. For instance, recently a team of legal advisors bidding for our contract came along to the interview with their own one-page profiles as a result of seeing ours on our website.

Since this initial phase we have begun to use one-page profiles across the business as well as embedding them as a critical tool in how we support people. In short, they have become recognisable as part of ‘how things are done in Dimensions’.

In our services they have enabled us to link people with similar interests. After all, when being helped to bake a cake, it’s a much nicer to be supported by someone who loves cooking as opposed to someone like me who regularly burns toast and whose passion is rugby.

Additionally, we have strived to get one-page profiles embedded in our business support departments. Visitors to our offices will find a file with the profiles of staff who work in that office, which has helped people to break the ice when meeting someone for the first time. Attaching links to profiles on our email footers has also helped remotely-based staff feel more conformable phoning people they haven’t met who work in our centrally-based teams rather sending the usual email query. Many of our business support teams have developed team profiles to help others understand ‘what makes them tick’.

As with most things that require a change in behaviour – individual or corporate – it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. For example, some people have had concerns about sharing personal information but the key has been to help people remember they are in control of what they share and that the aim is to help people connect more easily with them. In such busy times it’s also easy to see these as a task that once it’s done is done. Our learning has been that they are more effective when they are live and updated as we grow and develop as individuals as opposed to something you create once and file away.

I think the introduction and embedding of one-page profiles has made a really positive impact upon how we work and our organisational culture. But we will continue to think of and develop new ways of using them. Already we’re thinking of how we could embed them as a key part of our recruitment process and I can see us asking families to complete a profile so our staff can better understand what is important for them and how we can better connect.

If you’ve got any ideas on how we can use them or would like to know more about our journey please contact us.

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