Sneak Peak into a Service User ForumFriday 27 November, 2015
Ever wondered what goes on in a service user forum? Well now Real News brings you an exclusive insight into the recent Newcastle/Durham forum. Service users from the local area attended the forum, along with their support workers, and as the forum fell just before Halloween there was an optional spooky fancy dress code.
Once everyone had arrived and enjoyed an informal catch-up and were seated with a cuppa in hand, it was time for proceedings to get underway. The forum began with every person introducing themselves and sharing the most exciting thing they had done since the last meeting, with people we support and support workers alike sharing tales of relaxing holidays, exciting birthdays and fun gardening projects.
Next Team Co-ordinator Katie Murphy recapped on previous sessions, explaining they are currently focusing on the KLOE standards, discussing what CQC would expect to see to make sure people are being well supported. Katie went on to introduce the topic of the forum as ‘caring’, incorporating questions such as “what do you think caring means” and “if you had to support someone how would you be caring?”
Service Manager Bernice Holohan and Katie continued to facilitate an interactive discussion, inviting contributions from people we suport to share their thoughts on the topic. This led to a number of thoughtful contributions, with Paul commenting that being caring includes “listening and talking to people, giving them activities to help give them a good life.” Helen added that being mindful of people’s respect and dignity is important.
Bernice elaborated: “If we don’t give you choices, we are not caring for you properly. It’s important that you can make your own choices about where you want to go, what you want to do and what you want to eat.”
Fortunately when asked if there was anything they would like staff to do to be more caring all the service users proved to be very happy with the level of care they currently receive, with the only comments being jokes about doing some extra cleaning and a suggestion to go out for a Christmas dinner, which sparked a discussion for staff to facilitate putting that plan into action.
In fact, even at the forum there were great examples of care being demonstrated in practice. For example Philip, a well-loved resident of Edmondsley, wanted to attend the forum but knew he would be overwhelmed by having so many people in one place. So staff adapted the situation to meet his needs and set up his own space in a glass office in the corner of the room to avoid distress so he could participate from afar shouting his responses to the group.
Following the discussion, everybody enjoyed a fantastic ‘bring and share’ lunch and there was even some spectacular baking skills on display with Helen from Fawdon baking an amazing Halloween cake and sausage rolls and Vicky and Support Worker Diane Robson making delicious mini eyeball cakes.
The whole event was very inclusive with the people we support involved in everything, from participating in the discussion, to contributing food for the ‘bring and share’ lunch and helping staff with the tidying up, including vacuuming and washing the pots.
Overall there was a real sense of energy and excitement in the room and the forum provided a great opportunity to give everyone a voice. Speaking about what she enjoys most about the forums, Vicky, a person we support from Heaton, said, “I like all the people here, they are all my friends. It’s good to have everyone meet altogether.”
Paul, a person we support from Byker, added, “I enjoy them. It’s good to see people I haven’t seen in a long time and you get to eat some good grub too!”