My Portfolio Reflection


For my portfolio reflection, I have been asked to give the reader an insight of the setting in which my work placement was carried out in and the background of the organisation in which I was involved in. In my reflection I will also look at what I was surprised by, what caught my interest, what I felt was important and overtime how my thoughts were changed by my experience.
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For my 12-week work placement I carried it out in the Venegas Centre in Dundalk. The Venegas Centre is run by Saint John of God, it is funded by the HSE and provides services to people with intellectual disabilities, adult mental health along with child and adolescent psychiatry. Within the Saint John of God organisation, it supports roughly around 7000 children and adults per year. Their services are of great importance in the community. (Saint John of God , 2018) The Venegas Centre is based in Muirhevnamor; it is a day service for people with intellectual disabilities, the service is run from 9 till 5. In the Venegas Centre they provide services which allow Service Users to accomplish and reach their life goals and any other aspirations that they may have. The Venegas Centre organises many programmes around the service users, based on their needs as well as their wants. The Venegas Centre also offers support and help to the families of the service user, works with government departments in a way to meet the needs of the service users and works with health and educational establishments as well as other voluntary agencies around the area, such as meet ups with the Red Cross. (Saint John of God , 2018)
While on placement my duties involved working in a hands-on environment with the services users, to get involved in all aspects of the daily life in the centre and in the community. Such as carrying out activities with the service users, such as completing art and crafts, helping while they use computers/iPad’s, taken them out of the centre and into the community. During my placement I was expected to adhere to professional and ethical expectations while in the centre as well as when out following rules regarding client confidentiality. Each day in the centre differs; the Service Users had a timetable made up to suit their likes and what was available to them. On a Friday a room meeting would be called and this gave the Service Users an opportunity to speak up on issues regarding issues in the centre, such as dinners or activities or any other matter. Staff encouraged Service Users to speak up. Each day I would be doing something different; this is the part of my placement I enjoyed most. From helping the staff, with paperwork, taking the clients out and carrying out activities in the centre as well as other tasks.
The theme which I have chosen for my portfolio is Person Centred approach. The reason I have chosen this theme is because I feel it plays such a huge role in the day services
as it is the main focus of improving quality of life and putting the ‘Service User’ into lead of their own life. Person centred approach gives people with a disability the chance to make their own decisions which gives them independence. Person centred approaches guarantees that Service Users are seen as unique individuals with valuable skills and contributions it enables them to work together rather than. In themes and concepts, we looked at the person centred approach which was developed by Carl Rogers, he developed this in relation to his work with Service Users in a therapeutic setting. He gained his knowledge of therapy and theory of personality developed from the humanistic school of psychology. (DeCarvalho, 1990) In issues in Social Care we look at Person Centred Planning which links in also.
Rogers believed that for one’s condition to get better therapists working with the Service User should be understanding and approachable. When staff are planning roles for Service Users it is important that they have a clear understanding of what it is as well as the best way of going about it to support the Service User, such as not setting unrealistic goals. It is important to ensure that plans are carried out regularly and that the Service User is supported in a way that is suited to them. (McLeod, 2015)
(What is a person centred approach?, 2018)
I feel this image I have attached is a very good example the use of Person Centred Approach in the work setting as it compares the difference between the two in a way that is understandable and gets the point across clearly.
‘’One of the really important values underpinning person-centred working is an understanding that everyone has the right to make choices and have their preferences respected, even if others make decisions on their behalf. This is a legal requirement under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.’’ (Overcoming social work barriers to person-centred care, 2014)
At one time, people were once expected to take part in the schedules that was organised by health and social services, these routines were what they felt was the most appropriate, not what was more appropriate for the Service User. As times have changed, so have the routines. Routines now are made for the Service User the services are more accommodating to the needs of the Service User, such as sitting down with the Service User and discussing what he/she feels is suited to them and their capability. Working with a Service user individually ensures that the care that they get is catered to them. It is about doing things with people rather than ‘to’ or ‘for’ them. Person centred approach is so important to people with intellectual disabilities as it enables them to have that bit of independent but they also have the support behind them that is needed. It provides the Service User with a plan of their own. (***)
The role of social care when working with people with disabilities has changed over the years and has changed into a more of a holistic role that ties in with the emotional, social and occupational needs of the service user along with their physical care and welfare. Over the past few years the social care role in services such as this one has matured and earnt a fairer status compared to other professionals that work in this kind of role. The social care practitioner is a developing vocation and is growing in need within services for people with disabilities. Someone in the social care practice recognises the significance of relationships, is somebody who will listen and be able to share their advice and thoughts and also someone who will support them and stand up for the rights that they have. (Finnerty, 2013)
The Health Service Executive came up with a new approach for Service Users in day services called new directions. New Directions involves a new approach which involves a major change from provider-led programmes to individualised ones. This approach helps visualise all the supports that are accessible in the community. Since this new approach was brought in by the HSE person-centeredness is much more current and popular within the day services. This new approach enables the Service User to take join in as equal residents of their community and the ability to give something back to the community. (New Directions Personal Support Services for Adults with Disabilities, 2018) For example, in my placement The Holy Family church is just across the road and two of the Service Users help with the Mass service everyday taking it in turns to help alongside the priest. From this you can see how happy it makes them; it gives them a sense of importance as well as enjoyment.
From this placement I can really see why person centred approaches are so important. From working with people with intellectual disabilities it is clear that some of them have more abilities than other, and that others are more willing to explore them and try new things out. Person centred planning means that one person per plan. Each Service User is given a key worker; the goal here is for the key worker to get to know the service user such as their likes and dislikes, family, hobbies and personal history. Once this is established a folder is kept with all their information in it which is accessible to the Service User.
While on placement, X started work experience which gave her such a confidence boost. Before she had started her placement she sat down with the Z and discussed the possibilities of her getting work experience, what it would involve and discussed where it was that she would like to go. For X who is very capable it was only a matter of finding her a place of which interested her and getting her to it. Without person centred approach or the new directions I don’t think X would have gotten this opportunity. With person centred approach and planning the time was taken to sit down and discuss this with X her likes, if she felt that she was fit for it.
Staff and her key worker knew she would be but it was up to X to decide for herself if she felt she was or not. Another example would be the meetings staff and service users have on a Friday afternoon, here they get the opportunity to speak about any issues they feel need changes or things they wish to do or stop. I feel the Friday meetings are a great way of communication between all staff and service users in the room as it also gives them the chance to listen to what the others have to say too. Staffs are a key resource when needed to make the person centred approach achievable. (Sanderson, 2000)
I feel that this learning experience was very beneficial to me, I very much enjoyed my 12-week work placement and I have learned so much from it. Personally I think that the staff in the day services should have much more credit given to them as I don’t feel that the work they do for the Service Users is appreciated enough.
Before my placement I didn’t have any experience with working with people with disabilities, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it as before beginning I was quite anxious about how I would feel about it. Professionally I have such a better understanding of what a day of work would consist of in a day service. With this experience I can now link the work I have done in college to the work that I have done in placement. With placement it gives a little taster of what the work that I will be going on to do when I get my degree. I have learned so many skills from my 12-week placement. With working with people with all different kind of disabilities I believed that my communication skills have improved, learning how service users interact differently and learning ways I can use to interact with them. I did this by listening and watching as some were verbal, some non-verbal and some had their own signs that they would use.
On my placement some days were easier than others and I have realised that’s that is part of the job. On some days a service user may be having a bad day and because of that looking after them can be that bit harder as they can become aggressive or violent. In which both I have experienced while on my placement. I feel witnessing this happen and how the staff reacted and handled these situations impacted on my learning greatly. One case such as a Service User lashing out because their routine has changed such as leaving the centre early or a member of staff being absent that that. Things like that would throw the Service User of which would cause him to lash out at staff members and other Service Users. The staff dealt with this by telling the Service User well in advance if there would be any upcoming changes. With this it helped him as it would come to him as a surprise. During my time on placement I did up some social stories for the service users for their behaviours, the social stories were used to address specific situations. It is a way of teaching social norms in a way that is more personalised and suited to the service user.
The part in which I felt most at ease was how involved they let me be such as taken the Service Users out of the centre for a walk or over to mass. I would also help cover the room while if a worker was out as I had gotten to know the service users inside out, from their routine, moods and temperaments, such as what would set them off and how to calm them. At this stage of my placement I began to feel confident interacting with the staff and the Service Users. Usually when I covered the room the staff would be doing paper work, being unable to help with this I would mix with the services users, chatting to them, playing games with them or helping them use an iPad or computer. During these times I really got to know the Service Users as individuals I felt it was important to get them know them as time went on from this I definitely felt this benefited me. 

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