Our Corporate Plan 2014-17 (Overview of Year 1)

Our Corporate Plan sets out our aims and objectives and plots the direction of Positive Futures for 2014-17. It’s split into 6 Strategic Aims, the first of which is our commitment to support the people to have “the life they want”.

Strategic Aim 1 – “Everyone supported by our Supported Living Services will be involved in planning the support they need to have the life they want.”  

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In March, we brought together all of our management team and Trustees along with some key staff to review our progress against our Year 1 Business Plan and to agree what we do during Year 2 (2015/16).

We have made such great progress with “The Life I Want” strategy within the first year and I wanted to share with you just some of our achievements!

*Increased person centred knowledge and skills for our staff

Everyone who works in our Supported Living Services has been introduced to the concepts of Planning Live and Just Enough Support. We have an animate which illustrates each stage of “The Life I Want” process and we have a video which highlights the importance of choice and direction, as told by Francis, one of the people we support.

We have updated our policy and guidance on how to use person centred tool and have provided coaching and workshops for staff on this. This means our staff have the skills and knowledge to understand and find out exactly how individuals want to live their life and what “best support” looks like for them in order to achieve this.

We have also been successful in receiving funding to develop community connections for the people we support (for more information on this click here). A proportion of this funding will be used to deliver training to staff to develop their confidence in supporting people in their community and to help them develop friendships outside of paid support.

*31 people we support have completed Planning Live and Just Enough Support events

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We want every single person we support in our Supported Living Services to have the life  they want. So far, 44% of the people we support in our Supported Living Services have completed Planning Live and Just Enough Support events which means we are almost half way to achieving our Strategic Aim in Year 1 alone! I think that deserves a pat on the back – well done us!

*We have improved the quality of life for the people we support

When we evaluated the impact of “The Life I Want” processes for the people we support, those who had completed Planning Live and Just Enough Support told us that their control needs, occupational needs and social needs were better met. Have you checked out website for stories about how some of the people we support are “taking control” and choosing how they want to be supported?

*We have learnt what works really well and what doesn’t work! This continuous learning means we have the knowledge and skills to adapt the process so everyone can achieve “the life they want” regardless of the level of support they need.

Not everyone enjoys “live” planning events – there may be too many people in the room or they mightn’t like the focus of attention being on them. We have been able to adapt the processes to work for the people we support – this is why we are having such great success! There is always a Plan B! Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks when we will be sharing some of our top tips for facilitating events and different ways that we have adapted the processes.

*Team Work! Achieving “The Life I Want” is not possible without everyone pulling together

Most importantly, we would not have accomplished this success without working together. We don’t have all the answers and this is what makes these processes so exciting! By working together we can explore multiple options, be creative and agree solutions – together we are making a difference!

So, what’s next in our journey of personalisation to support people to have the life they want?

We will be focusing on embedding the “The Life I Want” culture throughout our Organisation and exploring what this process looks like for other Services, beyond Supported Living. We will also be looking at how best to support people to develop community connections and develop friendships outside of paid support.

Sign up to our blog posts today to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest news and developments that Year 2 brings.

And on that note, here’s some inspirational words from one of the people we support:

“I wish everyone could have a life like mine.”

Kathleen Breen, supported by our Sperrin Supported Living Service





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Getting the balance right – important to and important for…

Kellie is supported by our Crescent Supported Living Service.

Kellie attended her Planning Live event in September 2014, along with her Mum and some of her favourite staff members. Due to the nature of Kellie’s needs, it was thought that she wouldn’t be able to manage a full day event as it was taking her away from her general routine but she surprised everyone and was full of laughter and smiles the whole day.

Kellie is very private person and likes her own space so we decided to have the event at the local community centre. This meant that Kellie could come and go if she wished. Kellie really enjoyed the event; she loved having those closest to her together and having everyone’s attention focused on her.

The greatest benefit of the event was that time was taken to solely concentrate on Kellie. Kellie chose a comfy settee to lie on and had all her favourite snacks with her. This helped her feel very relaxed. Kellie listened and watched everyone as they spoke and wrote the information on her poster. She took every opportunity to join in by smiling and laughing and tapping her knee to show that she was in agreement with certain parts of the discussions. The whole day was relaxed and good fun but equally very productive.

One of the key elements that arose from the day was that Kellie really loves to go out and socialise and previously she wasn’t getting enough opportunities to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and experience new things. Having Kellie’s Mum at the event was invaluable. We learnt lots of things about Kellie when she was growing up and her Mum told us that she had lots of friends who she really enjoyed spending time with in the past. We recognised that reconnecting with her old friends might be something Kellie would really enjoy. Kellie was tapping her knee in agreement at this and was smiling at the mention of her old friends’ names.  Without Kellie’s Mum at the event, we wouldn’t have been able to capture how important this was to Kellie.

Following Planning Live, we supported Kellie to contact her old friends and she has been out bowling with them. Kellie was so happy to see them and had a big smile on her face when she met up with them. Thanks to the information that Kellie’s Mum was able to share with us, we are also supporting Kellie to go her friend’s house in Bangor.

It was also evident that Kellie has a lot of paid support in her life. To give her the opportunity to develop friendships rather than being supported by two members of staff when out socialising or experiencing new activities, Kellie is being introduced to a volunteer.

We’ve touched on lots of things that we discussed during Kellie’s event, but it was equally important that we recognised what was important for Kellie as well. This included understanding that we should progress actions slowly and at a pace that works for her and be mindful of the change that we were introducing. This was an important part of the Planning Live event so that we could get a good balance between what was important to and for Kellie, to keep her healthy and safe.

On the day of the event, outcomes specific to Kellie were recorded and an action plan developed which is helping us support Kellie to maintain what is important to her now and to progress toward what is important to and for her in the future.

What is your experience of using person centred tools? Perhaps you would like to hear more about the tools that we use? Leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you!

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Developing Friendships In The Community

It is widely accepted that access to social and leisure activities and opportunities to develop meaningful friendships are extremely limited for many men and women with a learning disability, acquired brain injury or autistic spectrum condition – but should they be?

In our February post you read about how John and his friend Tara were able to develop their friendship though sharing common interests. But what if a person doesn’t have anything to build upon – where can we begin to support them to develop meaningful relationships within the community, outside of the paid support in their life? Well, one way can be through the use of a volunteer!

Ruth Mormecha, our Volunteer Coordinator tells us just how important volunteers are to “The Life I Want” strategy and how you can get involved with volunteering.

“I am lucky to work for an Organisation that recognises the significant contribution volunteers make to the lives of the people we support, their families and the Organisation. Volunteers come from all walks of life and bring a unique perspective to our work. By sharing their skills, enthusiasm, and investing their time, our volunteers play a key role in ensuring the people we support live “the life they want”.

 Through “The Life I Want” strategy, we have been able to identify lots of opportunities where volunteers can get to know the people we support, from baking to swimming, gardening to IT, sport or art and so much more… you will find something there for you.”

Volunteering is so much more than the activity itself as one of our volunteers describes:

“I have been volunteering with Positive Futures for over 2 years. I had to retire for health reasons and this left me feeling useless. Someone suggested that I try volunteering. Through another organisation, I was put in touch with Positive Futures. My interests were matched with one of the people they support. We watch TV together, play games and just enjoy each other’s company. Volunteering has opened up a whole new world for both of us… I can truly say that volunteering is good for your health!”

So it just goes to show… when a willing volunteer invests their time and shares a skill or interest, it can help open the door to a whole new world of opportunities. There are so many stories like this in Positive Futures but there are many more yet to be written!

Whether you are 16 or 70-something, or anywhere in between, if you are interested in volunteering, then get in touch. We’ll be delighted to provide all the necessary information you need and support you through our selection and matching process. Leave us a comment below.

Whatever you can invest time-wise, we can make it work!

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Developing Community Connections

We are delighted to announce that, with thanks to the Social Work Innovations Scheme, we have secured £16,000 to increase the presence and contribution of the people we support and other marginalised groups within their communities.

As part of this one year project, we will:

  • Work with the people we support, staff and local community groups to identify the enablers and challenges which individuals encounter when trying to develop community connections
  • Host a series of showcase events for community groups, friends, families and neighbours to find ways to improve opportunities for greater participation and involvement in society by marginalised groups
  • Support the people we support and their friends and family to access community based services
  • Host a series of workshops for health and social care professionals on how to develop community connections and how they can promote this in everyday practice
  • Develop guidance for Social Workers and Social Care Workers in NI on promoting Community Connections.

To help us do this, we are recruiting for two new posts:

  • 30 hours per month for a Community Connections Coordinator and
  • 40 hours per month for a Community Development Worker

Keep an eye on our website over the coming weeks for these jobs!

The project will commence at the beginning of May 2015. Why not subscribe to our blog posts so you can keep up to date on our progress with this project and “The Life I Want”?

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Vlog Exclusive! “The Life I Want” In Practice

Welcome to our first vlog (that’s a video log to you and me) on “The Life I Want”.

It features Francis Mayes, who is supported by our Cookstown Supported Living Service, sharing his experience of Planning Live and what he thinks about “The Life I Want” Strategy. We also hear from Francis’ Dad about what he thought about the processes and listen to Anne, Francis’ Coordinator at Positive Futures, explain how this has changed the way she thinks about her job and the support that she provides.

Click here to view.

Would you like to learn more about Planning Live and Just Enough Support processes and how we put person centred thinking into practice? If so, we would love to hear from you – please leave us a comment!


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Life According To John

Back in December, we shared the outcomes from the evaluation of “The Life I Want” strategy. Among other findings, we learned that the people we support want to become more involved in their local communities and have opportunities to develop more meaningful friendships. The findings also indicated that through “The Life I Want” strategy processes, we were meeting this need for the people we support.

John Mullan, who is supported by our East Coast Supported Living Service, had his Planning Live and Just Enough Support events in July 2014. During Planning Live, John told us that he would really like to write his life story which he could share with support staff and friends. He felt this would help those close to him find out more about who he is and where he has come from. He wanted to use the book to reminisce about things that he has achieved throughout his life.

It would have been easy to ask paid staff to support John to create his book, but we want to support people to flourish and really develop their friendships outside of paid support. During Just Enough Support, we used John’s relationship map as a guide, asking him if there was anyone in particular that he would like to support him create his memories book. We learned that one of John’s friends had a daughter, Tara, who was studying Journalism at university and who was home for the summer holidays. Perfect match! Tara would have the opportunity to use her journalism skills and do something that she enjoyed and, equally, John had the opportunity to get to know Tara better and develop their friendship whilst reminiscing about his life.

This story demonstrates how simple it can be to help people develop more meaningful relationships when we look beyond the realms of paid support and John’s book illustrates what can be achieved when we are able to ‘match’ activities with the right person.

 John is delighted with his book which he has called “Life according to John” and wanted to share it with the readers of “The Life I Want” blog.

Life according to John

“The early days… I was born in Newtownabbey to a family of 5. One of three siblings, I still remain close to my two sisters Geraldine and Patricia. We are a close family. I moved to Bangor when I was 15 and joined Barnardos then United Response and I now enjoy life with Positive Futures.

Sir John’s accolades… I have achieved lots despite having a learning disability. I have a keen interest in animals. I am assistant trainer of award winning greyhound, Slip the Genie. Gypsy and Shadow were my own horses. Gypsy was a racing horse and won a trophy at Collieburn in Newtownabbey for showjumping. I have been on many trips, including a winning trip to the Cheltenham races. Slip the Genie won the Tyrur Mcguigan Open 575 race in Shelbourne Park in 2013. I was a very proud man. I still help my great friend (also called John) with his greyhounds every Thursday.

John Mullan Collage

I am supported by Positive Futures. They help me to live an independent, happy and relaxed life in my own home.

The Mullans have always been a very close family. We often go on holiday together.

As well as my farm and greyhound duties, I am also an RQIA lay assessor. My work with ARC NI helped me to get this post.

Darren is my “best mate” and lives across the road from me.

I have lived on my own for 17 years. I still haven’t had a housewarming because I haven’t had time! But I promise to try to make some (time).

Sir John’s hope and dreams for the future… I want to watch Man Utd beat Tottenham. I also wants to see a Cliftonville match soon. Living on my own means the world to me and my future is always positive.”

We’d like to say a huge thank you to John for agreeing to share his story with us.

What do you think about John’s story? He would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

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Excited About What Is Next & Loving My Job!

Rosie, who is a Support Worker with our Crescent Supported Living Service, tells us how “The Life I Want” strategy has changed the way she views her job and how person centred practice has changed the lives of the ladies she supports.

Rosie, tell us what it is about “The Life I Want” strategy that changed the way you view your job?

The strategy changed my whole view point and opened up a brand new world of opportunities for the people we support. We no longer have time restrictions – support plans now reflect individual needs and are planned around what people want to do on that day. We are also able to expand and explore community connections and other new activities.

Was it an immediate reaction or did you take a while to come round to the strategy?

Once we sat down and looked at the ‘Planning Live’ templates, it was immediate. From then, we started to plan and implement bespoke strategies.

What’s been the most positive aspect of the strategy for you?

For me, there have been lots of positive aspects. In particular, seeing what more is possible and then seeing the results in practice. Also, expanding our own ideas to ensure the people we support are always of paramount importance in all our thinking.  This should relate to all aspects of their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development.

What’s been the most positive aspect of the strategy for the people you support?

The most positive aspect of the strategy is that I have the privilege to observe the increase in confidence, self-esteem and contentment of those who I support.

Any other comments?

I am very happy and privileged to be part of such an innovative and positive strategy that I know from experience does work.

Sum up your job in three words!

Positive, fun, boundless!

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