Kate Allen – the balance of professional caring
Professional caring is such a hard balance.
Autism at Kingwood is commissioned to provide professional support to autistic people whose lives would benefit from our help. We have a professional code of conduct that we expect all employees to adhere too and within that are professional boundaries. Yet the reality is, whilst we are professionals we care about people. We build relationships with people we support and their families. Their happiness is important to us and we often go the extra mile beyond the standard professional job description. That is why we choose to do what we do.
You may recall I mentioned recently that I have been involved in a research project exploring how those most vulnerable people with limited communication skills can have a voice in their support; some control in their lives. The report from the Seldom Heard project is nearing completion and it is encouraging to see the options that professionals can offer.
Yet this week we were informed by one local authority that someone we support who will need different accommodation, as their physical needs are changing, will not only have a different provider, but have no choice in that provider. It is the choice of that local authority who has a preferred provider. It is hard for us. We try to be professional and recognise that we are not the only organisation who can provide good support and meet this person’s needs, but we know this person; we’ve built a relationship of trust with them over a number of years; after numerous poor experiences. We have learnt how to change our communication skills to meet their requirements. We know what they like, what they don’t like. We may not be friends, because we are paid professionals, but we care. We care a lot. We will share everything we know and everything we have learnt, but it is frustrating that the person’s life who is most affected is not going to have a choice in who provides their support; who is there with them every day. Despite all the government guidance and good practice recommendations, it may be that the local authority is able to offer no choice.
We will remain professional and we will question further the rationale and the options; the morality of the situation. And we do that not because we are being obstructive but because we care. We have experienced and learnt so much with this person, we genuinely believe we are the best people to provide their support, if they (and their family) also believe that to be case.
Numbers of positive cases amongst people we support and staff remain low but consistent. There is one person we support recovering in Oxfordshire; 2 employees have also tested positive and 1 is self-isolating. We have no cases in Buckinghamshire or Berkshire. We have no cases requiring hospitalisation or with serious consequences.