Voyage Care Podcast: Transition Managers, Jen and Christina, discuss person-centred care

Welcome to the brand-new Voyage Care podcast. This season, we’ll be focusing on how we deliver person-centred care to the people we support. For episode one, we’ll be hearing from Jen and Christina who are Transition Managers. They’ll be discussing what person-centred care means to them, as well as sharing some of their favourite person-centred care stories.

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Read the transcript of the podcast below.


Hello, and welcome to the Voyage Care podcast. My name’s Jen. I’m Transitions Manager for Voyage Care and I work in the South West region of Voyage Care, and today I’m joined by Christina.


Thank you, Jen. Hi everyone. My name is Christina Thomas, and I’m also a Transition Manager, a very unique roles within Voyage Care. I also work in the South West.


And today we’re going to talk about person-centred care. So, Christina, what does person-centred care mean to you?


I think, Jen, it’s really interesting in terms of person-centred care and I think there’s many sorts of different interpretations of how that sort of works within the health and social care sector. So, I think for me in particular, you have to treat people with dignity, compassion, and respect. Maybe because the person is a service user and they’re entering care, it doesn’t mean that that needs to be removed. That person-centred principles and approach can enable people to remain that dignity.

I think what Voyage Care can offer in terms of the person-centred care principles is the coordinator care and supportive treatment that we provide from support workers, from home managers, branch managers, ourselves, transition managers, and the operation, how all the sort of team embedded within that. It certainly is about personalized care and support. And I’m sure later in the podcast, Jen, you and I can give our examples from the support delivering provision to the sort of residential provision as well. But to summarize that, I think it’s to enable services and to recognize and to develop the sort of skills and abilities and we can sort of certainly assist them to empower them to do that. What do you think, Jen, would you agree?


Yeah, definitely. I think for me person-centred care is about not making assumptions and thinking outside the box. And it’s about working with the individual and us not making assumptions about what their care looks like or what their aspirations are or what they want to achieve or what they want their home to be like. It’s about really drilling down with the individual and the people around that person who know them best to really find out what’s personal to them, what their likes are, what their dislikes are, what their needs are, what their aspirations are. And just being really open-minded and involving them in that process as much as possible in a way that they can engage in that. And I think one of the things that I really like about our job roles and working for Voyage Care is that we can be so instrumental in that process.

And it’s one of the things that I love about my job in terms of sometimes we’re the first people from Voyage Care to meet that individual. And especially when we’re thinking about supported living services, for us to be able to spend time with someone to really, really understand them and what they want and what they need, and then be able to take that knowledge and that information and use that as a foundation to develop, especially in supported living, if we’re in a position where we can develop a new bespoke service to someone is amazing. And it’s such a privilege to be part of that as well. And to have somebody that can choose where do they want to live. How do they want the environment decorated? To be involved in recruitment. What type of person do they like to be supported by? How do they like to be supported?

I think very often when you see a traditional assessment form, it very much talks about deficits in someone, about what they can’t do, as well. Or it will talk about someone needing support with washing, for example. But for us to be able to say, well, how does someone like to be supported with washing? What shower gel do they like? How do they like their hair washed? For the people that we support that are more independent well, what hairdressers do they go? Or barbers do they go to? How did they like their nails done? It’s all of these things that I think it’s really easy to get missed out sometimes. So person-centred care, it’s a real holistic approach to that person, understanding them.


I absolutely agree, Jen, and I just want to echo everything that you’ve said there. It’s interesting, one example, we’ve recently got an admission going into one of the homes in Somerset. And he is love for Arsenal, the football team. So, the decorators are out there already personalized his room with a bright red wall. But that’s what he wants. That’s what he’s chosen to do. So yeah, it is, you’re absolutely right. And one of the key fundamental words that you mentioned there I think is about the holistic. From the little things that’s very important to that person, as you say, that can get missed. And I think it’s also thinking about the compatibility as well. Even though that person is moving into that environment, it’s our key job, isn’t it Jen, to make sure that other people where they’re going to possibly going to be sharing with has the same interests, has the same hobbies. Sometimes the age range works really well for them to be involved in that sort of criteria and assessment compatibility process. We’ve got some real success stories in our areas where that works extremely well.

But if I can just move over to just onto the sort of residential side, typically there might be a it gets a little bit more difficult where you’ve really got a sort of… How would you embed the person-centred care? Because a lot of the people that within the residential setting tend to not have the capacity. So, it’s about how do we ensure that we can embed those principles within that residential centre? So, it’s about working in a multi-agency approach, certainly working with appointees, local authorities, best interest meetings that we’re involved in as well, just to ensure very detailed, very thorough transition meetings for those individuals.

So, I feel there’s a slight difference, which gives us such interest. And some can be more challenging than others, but you’ve really got to be extremely creative as well, I think, and very open minded. Just because we’re working with a service user, an individual that does not have the capacity, it’s not down to us or other people to necessarily be thinking that the decisions we make are the best decisions for them. Do you agree, Jen?


Yeah, no, a hundred percent agreed. A gentleman moved recently into us… well before Christmas, to us. And it was right in the middle of the pandemic, right in the middle of COVID. And we received this referral that came through and this individual in the information that was provided read as a very high-risk individual in terms of behaviours to other people. He had autism, some level of communication. There were some behaviours there, but very much the picture that was painted of this individual was very much that he was a high-risk individual in terms of the impact he’d have on other people. And I think for us in our job roles, we do have time to kind of invest in referrals that come through and kind of really dig into them. So, I’m very much… I was like okay, so this is the information that come through on paper, but wait on a process to really find, to understand more, why was this person behaving in this way?

What was it that this is how the person is? Or were there other things that were contributing to that? And working in COVID has changed things. We have to do lots of Teams assessments rather than the doing face-to-face assessments. And I remember in one of the first Teams meetings that I had with him and his current providers, he really liked trains and taking photos and books. And we just spent much at the time just talking about those things. But you could find out a lot about somebody just having very open conversations. You can find a lot about their support needs and their likes and their dislikes around that. So even in the middle of COVID, and even in a residential setting, we could still really gather that information. And we weren’t just taking it that just because his current provider said he was this way, we weren’t willing to take that, and we wanted to find out from him.

And we were able to do a transition process the best we could through that. And he’s moved into one of our residential homes. And he’s amazing. All these behaviours that we were told, they just weren’t there. And I just think, yeah, what can I say? The staff team really invested in him and getting to know him and really engaged his family in that process as well about his likes and dislikes and really kind of understanding his personal communication styles. So, we were told that he used a certain amount of Makaton and things like that, but it was really about finding out what he individually needed.

And the home that he’s gone into it is a residential home. And there is a certain amount of structure there that comes with residential home. But equally he has his own communication timetable and passport that’s specific for him. It’s not a generic one that’s for everyone in there. His timetables are for him. He has his food prepared. He likes to be involved in things. So, he has his food prepared and he’s involved in that in the way that he likes to be when he likes to. Whereas I think he very much came from an environment where it was like, “This is lunchtime. Everyone has lunch together at this time.” So, I think us being able to take a person-centred approach, a, to the assessment process, b, to the transition and c, to just his placement. We’ve had no behaviours that challenge. We’ve had no incidents and it’s been a real success.

And he likes in his room… He loves taking photos. He goes out for walks with the staff all the time. He’s always taking photos and one of his favourite things, he comes back, and he prints up all these photos and they’re all around his room everywhere. When you first do an assessment with someone, we can work in the way that, that we do in that person-centred way. And then you go back because we do our reviews, don’t we, about six weeks after someone is in place. And to have a review with somebody and just to see the change in them, it’s amazing. It’s kind of why we do our jobs, I think.


Yeah, absolutely, Jen. It’s so empowering, isn’t it? And rewarding as well. I think the reviews for me, because more often than not maybe we haven’t engaged with the managers from the time of admission to then. So, I always get excited to sort of hear all the success stories. I’ve got one in particular. I really think it’d be really good to share. And this was in the hub of COVID and if this was actually an out of county referral. It was safeguarding were involved with this lady’s former provider. So, in short, really, she was a young lady. She didn’t have the capacity, she had a learning disability and she just became stuck in her bed for over a year. There was no particular health reasons or conditions. The room that she was in in her former home, it was a first-floor room. They didn’t have a lift.

So yeah, it certainly wasn’t meeting her wellbeing needs, as you can imagine. But can you imagine being just stuck in a bed for a year? And I’m sure with the staff at the home tried their best to sort of encourage her, to move her. Obviously, the local authority was due to the sort of safe guarding and not meeting her wellbeing spoke to me and asked if there was a residential home that could certainly support her with her wellbeing. And the outcomes for us to achieve was within a certain period of time to help her to become much more mobile. So, I located a fantastic home, it had double patio doors leading straight out to the garden. It was a ground floor. It was a such a spacious room. It was actually like I said, it was out of county, but it wasn’t too far from the border.

We had step-by-step transition meetings with everyone involved. But what I’m going to do, because I could talk all day about it. It is really one of the most endearing transitions I’ve been in, in terms of the outcomes. So the lady successfully moved into this room, the whole staff were involved in the transition. So, it involved the deputy, it involved the seniors. We identified a core staff for this lady for the transition for when she settles in. Certainly, during the first six week review the outcomes that were achieved were incredible. She was actually coming out of bed. She was having manicures, pedicures, she was making her way with a walking frame. Because obviously I think the main concern is that maybe some of her limbs had seized and she was smiling at the staff and that was just in six weeks.

And I think it’s quite clear, Jen, as well in terms of that transition is crucial, and the assessment and getting everybody involved and being realistic as well. It was quite a challenge in a sense where nobody knew the reason why she remained in a bed, sort of her own choice, but she wouldn’t move out of her bed, and she’s just flourishing. She’s absolutely flourishing. And even though our role moves on after that sort of review, I still keep in touch with the home and I always ask about her. Always puts a smile on my face. It really does. It’s definitely one of the most endearing ones I’ve worked with.


One of my favourite ones is when I first started actually, one of my first projects that I was kind of tasked with was this new supportive living home that we were looking to set up in the Wiltshire area. And it was bringing three young individuals together. And when we’re working with younger individuals with learning disabilities, the families are very much involved with that process as well. And it was a long process. It was a brand-new home that we were setting up from scratch. And we went through a matching process as well. So, we would kind of bring individuals together. We arranged afternoon teas out. I remember meeting at garden centres for coffee and cake to kind of first meet, introduce the people we support together. I remember meeting in the evenings so the families could come together.

It’s quite a long process. I remember one of the young guys lived probably about 40 minutes away from where the house was and they weren’t able to travel. So once a week I used to pick him up on my way through and take him over to Trowbridge area where he could spend the day with his new housemates, and then drop him back afterwards. And in terms of being person-centred, it’s about we will do what we need to do. Within reason, but we will do what we need to do to try and make something work really. And we’re then in a position where from our assessments we can go, well, this is the support that we think these individuals need, rather than someone having to kind of fit in with a structure that’s already there. And we can be creative with what the support need to look like as well.

But it’s also, one thing for me through that process was about positive risk taking and about being really open minded with the matching process as well, because the first match was two young males who were similar ages. They had different diagnosis, but similar support needs. And we were very much focused on finding another young male to match in with them. That was kind of what the social workers thought was the right thing and the families. And we were kind of going through that process and reviewing referrals. And I had a referral that came through for a young female. And yeah, it’s just about looking at the situation with open eyes.

And we met the young female and did an assessment on her. And her support needs were different to the two. She was more able than the two younger guys. She was a couple of years older, she was slightly more able, she was also female and we were looking for a male. And I remember floating the idea to the families and to those that were currently involved. And I think at first there was a little bit of hesitation around it, but we kind of continued to the next step just to have the individuals together to see how they got on. And it worked amazingly. As soon as we met for coffee, you could just see that they just kind of really got on. And I think for her, she very much liked football and things like that anyway, but it very much brought out kind of the caring side of her. And I think in previous placements she’d struggled with dynamics with other females and that was her challenge. And I think so for her being with males kind of took that away, but it also brought out this just lovely caring side to her.

And this must have been about three, three and a half years ago now. And I still check in, and they’re still all living there together. They’re all doing really well. They’re all engaged in community activities and sports activities and they have meals together and it’s fantastic. Yeah. And just, I think for the families as well, it’s such a weight off their mind. I think when they’re looking for homes for their… If they’re either leaving home or going from an educational unit into kind of the next step I think for the families, it’s quite a stressful process as well. But that positive risk taking. Just because someone’s not done something before doesn’t mean to say they can’t do something in the future as well. And supporting individuals to take those positive risks.


Yeah. I think that’s a great story, Jen, as well, you just shared. And what it did remind me is life before COVID. You were talking about going for coffee in the car. And I was like, oh gosh, I wonder what that feels like anymore? But that does bring me on to the point, just working the last year, our whole working practice has changed, Jen, hasn’t it? And I think everybody initially just panicked, and thinking, “Well, what do we do now?” But coming out the other side, she says. And things are opening up things are easing up slowly, albeit slowly.

But looking back at that year, I think what it’s allowed us to do, Jen, is really to work so much more creatively, work differently. There’s technology tools that we’ve had to sort of tap into. And I have to be honest, I’ve quite enjoyed it. It’s allowed me to be very productive. I can have working from home because we haven’t been able to go out so much, especially in the hub of COVID. We’re able to do so many virtual meetings and things. But I do, I certainly do miss going out. And that’s something that’s picking back up again for me. But yeah, when you touched on that I thought, gosh, that seems another world away.

It really does. So, Jen, it’s been lovely chatting and I think it’s time for us to bring the podcast to an end. Jen, thank you so much for sharing those examples. It’s been really, really great and your experiences as well, and the person-centred approach, you could just see her and feel your passion with it as well. It really is.

So yes. Thank you for listening. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website, get in touch with the referral line and they can signpost you to the right contact or to the right team. So yeah. Thank you.

Visit our transition page to read more about how we support people to transition to a new home! Stay tuned for another episode of our podcast next week.

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