“I was abused by my step-dad. I drink a litre of vodka a day. I had unprotected sex last week. Now your turn… I didn’t think so.”
From what people told us, constant needs and risk assessments made them feel humiliated at best, re-traumatised at worst. Having to tell, often painful stories, over and over again was distressing. Disclosing very personal information to people they didn’t know made them become distant from themselves or they ‘became their problem’ and adopted it as their identity.
Many told us that they felt powerless to refuse to answer questions that triggered feelings of sadness, hopelessness or embarrassment as without it, they wouldn’t get any support. Others used their ‘needs’ to maximize their chances of meeting their need for friendship, resources or individual attention.
Eventually, this was instituationalising people to the point where they felt they had no hope of a better life or being defined as anything other than the combination of their needs.
We took action
We threw out the paperwork. All of it. And started from scratch. Every policy, every procedure, every manual and co-created it all from scratch with the mantra of ‘how would I feel if this were me?’ at the core. Engaging with people in a respectful, human and genuine way can’t just be new words on paper, it had to be done through our shared, lived experience. Now, each policy, how we approach safeguarding, how we deal with incidences, how we lone work has been developed and delivered to staff around that mantra. As a result, our whole organisational culture has shifted to genuinely have the individual’s strengths at the heart of everything we do.
The PTS has been designed around the individual, not for them, so that each interaction evidences the fact that people can achieve and sustain their progress.