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2017 Involvement Conference

What you need to know

The 2017 Involvement Conference was another opportunity for the people we support to be empowered, learn something new and have their voices heard.

Since the first Involvement Conference four years ago things have changed a lot. More people are being supported to attend, with nearly 50 in 2017, and the people we support are playing an even more hands-on role in the conference itself. This year it was hosted entirely by two people we support; Matt and Andrew.

This wasn't just a chance for people we support to speak up and tell us how they want the organisation to be run, it was also a chance for individuals to learn more about the topics they're interested in, and showcase their own work.

On day one, people we support had chosen the topics for two powerful presentations to be delivered by industry experts. The first workshop was around over-medication, and the second about friendships, relationships, and finding love.

We received lots of valuable feedback which demonstrated how engaged everyone was during the conference. This feedback is incredibly important and will enable us to continue to improve and tailor our support services moving forward.

Here’s a brief summary of everything that happened at the conference, for those of you who couldn’t attend, and also our plans for what happens next. 

Are you receiving the right medication?
A workshop presented by STOMP (Stopping the Over-medication of People with Learning Disabilities, Autism, or both)

The first workshop, titled Are you Receiving the Right Medication, was led by Jill Parker from STOMP (Stopping the Over-medication of people with a Learning Disability, Autism, or both), and Carl Shaw, Learning Disability Advisor to NHS England.

The workshop began with an introduction to medication, why people take it, and what happens when people take too much of it. Some people we support felt open enough to tell us what it is like being on medication and how it made them feel. The presentation also looked at side effects.

Jill and Carl then told us about STOMP and what the campaign is about. They then asked the room what everyone thought Walsingham Support should do to ensure that all the people we support are taking the right amount of medication, for the right reasons, and for the right amount of time. Some of the feedback included:

  • Ensuring that individuals are supported to their annual health checks
  • Involving people supported in decisions about their medication
  • Support staff keeping good records of symptoms, behaviour, moods etc. to ensure everyone involved knows how the individual is feeling
  • Working together with doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health care professionals

It was clear that everyone wanted Walsingham Support to sign up to the STOMP initiative, and so we will be appointing a lead to implement this.

The involvement group in Central and South have taken this on as a specific task, and will be looking at how people we support can best be supported to manage their medication.

Making Friends and Finding Love.
A workshop presented by the Supported Loving Network

The second workshop, titled Making Friends and Finding Love, was led by Sally Warren from the Supported Loving Network and Paradigm, and Sammy Butcher, also from the Supported Loving Network.

Through a very interactive session that included videos and voting, Sally and Sammy had us all thinking about the important relationships in our life, and what other relationships people would like.

Everyone at the conference was asked what Walsingham Support could do to empower and support people to make friends and find love. Some of the suggestions included:

  • Making sure staff are trained to support people in this area
  • Reviewing person-centred plans to include information about individuals’ preferences and how they wish to be supported
  • Looking into the use of volunteers to support people to activities round the clock
  • Asking relevant questions during the recruitment process
  • Nominating a member of staff to be a ‘champion’ for the topic

Therefore, we think it is important that Walsingham Support looks at getting the right training for staff to make sure they can support people with making friends and having relationships.

With the help of the involvement groups, we will review our Relationships policy so that it is reflective of what the people we support want.

The Involvement Group in Wales will be taking this project on and will look at how we can best support people in terms of their sexuality, making friends, and finding love. 

Involvement Groups

On day two, we had presentations from three involvement groups based in Wales, the South and Salters Hill in Hereford.

The group in the South delivered a very informative presentation on keeping healthy. Rather than focussing solely on having a healthy diet, the group also explored the importance of looking after your mental health, keeping fit, making time for friends and leisure, and looking after your spiritual needs.

They presented their 11 tips for staying healthy, and produced a health book to enable people to manage their health as independently as possible.

One member of the Southern involvement group said: “Presenting was fantastic. Telling everyone about our project and all the hard work we had done was a great feeling”

The group in Wales presented a role play on taking risks and staying safe. They also produced a leaflet on how people can stay safe.

As you know, Salters Hill will be joining Walsingham Support in April 2018, so the representative group in Salters Hill gave a presentation on their life there, and what they do in their representative group meetings.

One member of the Salters Hill group said: “Our Group talked about what we do at Salters Hill and we showed everyone a video. We found it interesting and we would all like to go again next year”

Dance Syndrome

We rounded things off with a performance from the spectacular Dance Syndrome. Founder Jen Blackwell and fellow dancer Becky Rich debuted a new duet performance, and even gave us all a few lessons! Dance Syndrome proved to be very popular, with many people singing along.

We hope to produce as engaging a Conference next year, and create discussion and change on the topics most important to the people we support.