In June, Evolve’s Care Academy invited team members back into the training room to experience the third course of their 2022 build back better programme, #EvolveBBB.
The first #EvolveBBB course in March, Culture, lifted spirits with a cathartic day of healing from the trauma that Covid inflicted and refocused a united cultural vision for our homes. The second course in April, Identity, showed us how a family member’s care journey is paved by their past, and that it is only when we learn their life story that we can know how to form a meaningful attachment that meets their emotional needs.
With this still fresh in our minds, June brought us Inclusion. A course focused on eliminating isolation, Inclusion explores how we can come together to create welcoming and loving spaces where anyone stepping into one is nurtured into a sense of belonging. By the end of the day, we understood how to take even the smallest of opportunities and use them to open a doorway to connection.
We began the day by defining inclusion and what it means in the context of our care homes. The official definition reads as ‘The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.’ With Inclusion being an integral petal on the Kitwood flower, we once again referred to his theories surrounding inclusion and how he links its importance to Dementia.
To put it simply, it is ‘not being or feeling left out.’ Taking this as our starting point we kicked off the day the Evolve way – with self-reflective exercises that provoke empathy and kindness, authentically shifting perspectives onto a positive course that sends team members back home with the instilled belief in their ability to make an impact.
We can’t care for and understand others until we practice self-care and understanding in our own lives. Facilitators of the academy approach this barrier by passionately delivering relatable concepts that are applicable to team members’ own lives and experiences, inspiring the deep reflection needed to incite personal development and lasting change.
Team members wrote down three times they had felt excluded, lonely, or rejected and were introduced to Evolve’s Model of Inclusion to evaluate the impact it had on them. Many people said they felt excluded when entering an unfamiliar environment and no one addresses them. How then, can we expect someone who lacks the capacity to feel when entering an unfamiliar place? We examined the impact that capacity has on our reality and considered the feelings encountered by our family members who lack it when they arrive in their new homes.
Our team members are the difference between someone’s experience coming into their new home being one filled with anxiety and fear, or one that is positive and filled with compassion. We spent the rest of the morning taking part in conversations that aimed to answer one crucial question: What do we do when we walk into any room to make people feel included?
After our lunch buffet enjoyed outside in our picnic areas, we sat back down to discuss the serious business of how team members were going to make inclusion work in their homes. The teams identified some of the core things that all human beings have in common and what we all need in our lives to sustain positive wellbeing. The reoccurring themes that came up were:
– Being a part of a community
– Having relationships that last
– Having opportunities to develop and experience and learn new skills
– Having choices and control over life
– Being treated as an individual
Once we had identified what was important, we looked at how we can make any task or activity inclusive and break them down into sequenced steps that make it easy for family members who are cognitively challenged to carry out independently.
These exercises encouraged our team members to be innovative with how they support people to find purpose in their community. Facilitators played out improvised scenes, offering choices in creative ways that ensure family members are included in each and every part of their care journey and demonstrated that when we think outside the box, we get the answers we need to instruct us on how to involve people in a day-to-day life that looks and feels like them.
For our last exercise of the day team members were reunited with a hypothetical character from our Identity session, Rowan, an 84-year-old woman on a dementia journey with a complex past. In Identity, we discovered her life history and created an identity board for her when she first arrives at our home. In Inclusion, we meet back up with Rowan after she has been living in the home for two months and looked at how we can take what we’ve learned through our Identity and Inclusion training to involve her in her new community and support her to form meaningful connections.
From everything we had discussed throughout the day, team members created an inclusive care plan for Rowan that reflected who she is to create the highest quality continuation of life possible for her in her home. Team members will be able to recreate these for all family members in their own homes and continue on our mission to build inclusive communities that include and support the individual identities of everyone.
The day encouraged connection between team members more than any session yet. Join us for our next session, Occupation, where team members will be introduced to a new immersive care home experience and see our training room as they have never seen it before.
If you would like to join a workplace culture that truly cares about creating inclusive spaces for team members and be part of #EvolveBBB, please contact our friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org