use services and facilities
For this reflective account I am using the example of when I take Mr B to College for his cookery lessons.
Mr B goes to College every Thursday, more often than not I am the support worker that goes with him, as Mr B is unaware of dangers such as when something is hot it may burn you and as Mr B does not verbally communicate it is necessary for a support worker to be with him at college.
Mr B has a risk assessment in place for working in a kitchen at home and this also applies for when he is in a kitchen at college so it is important you read this before taking Mr B to college.
Mr B seems to really enjoy the days he goes to college and so over the months I have re-evaluated the day and increased the time he is out of the house from going just for his lesson until now when he is out all day, which seems to really benefit him and helps him to increase his independence.
The first thing I do before leaving the house with Mr B is ask him to go and get his coat, bag and wallet. As Mr B has started to get into a good routine he now knows exactly what to get when I ask him. I ask Mr B to put his wallet in his bag and then to put his bag securely over his shoulder. Mr B always carries his own wallet when we go out I just check to make sure it is securely in his bag. Mr B always seems to know when it is college day and he appears to get excited and can’t wait to leave the house. I remind Mr B to go and get his cookery box, he now knows exactly where it is in the kitchen so he goes straight to get it.
Each week Mr B either takes a packed lunch with him or he buys a cooked dinner when we are at college. If he has a packed lunch then he helps to make it before he leaves. On this occasion Mr B was going to buy a cooked lunch at college.
Mr B and I now try and get the bus to and from college each week I feel this is very important for Mr B to increase his independence and he seems to enjoy the process of the bus journey. When we leave the house we walk up to the bus stop, Mr B knows exactly which bus stop to go to on college days. We stand and wait for the bus, I encourage Mr B not to stand too close to the edge of the pavement for his own safety and he normally sits on the bench to wait. Once the bus arrives Mr B gets out his bus pass (I show Mr B which card is his bus pass in his wallet), I then support Mr B to show his bus pass to the driver and then collect his ticket. Mr B then chooses to sit wherever he likes on the bus and I sit next to him, Mr B quite often chooses the back of the bus where he can watch all the people that get on and off the bus. Mr B gets quite giggly at this point as he likes to people watch. I then support Mr B to put his bus pass back in his wallet and his wallet back in his bag. The bus journey is fairly long to get to college and we have to change buses in the centre of Bristol.
Once we get to the centre of Bristol I support Mr B to get off the bus safely, as it is quite a big step and Mr B does not always judge the distance appropriately and there can be a risk that he will fall. In order to get the next bus that takes us to college we have a number of roads that we need to cross, each one has traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing. At each crossing I support Mr B to wait until the lights say that we can cross, each time I point out that when it is green we can cross and now Mr B seems quite happy to wait until the appropriate time to cross. Mr B quite often chooses to link arms with me when walking and crossing the road he seems to feel more secure doing this.
Once we reach the bus stop we wait again and go through the same process as above when the bus arrives. Once we arrive at the bus stop near college and I support Mr B to get off the bus we walk the last minute to the college gates. As we get closer to college Mr B speeds up his walking and he giggles more, this appears to show that he is happy to be at college and quite often that I am not walking quickly enough for him.
Once at college Mr B heads straight for the café, we queue up to get some food. At college the choices of food is clearly laid out so I ask Mr B to point at what he might want for dinner. I also ask Mr B what he might want to drink he always chooses tea (this appears to be his favourite drink) by doing the makaton sign for tea. It is very important to let Mr B choose what he wants to eat and drink as having choice allows more independence. I then support Mr B to hand over the money for his dinner then put his wallet back in his bag.
Once Mr B has his dinner he chooses where he wants to sit, this day Mr B chose to sit with some of the other college students. Sometimes Mr B will choose to sit away from everyone and just watch other times Mr B will choose to sit with everyone else. Whilst eating lunch lots of students that know Mr B come up and say hello, whilst Mr B doesn’t verbally communicate if he wants to interact with the other students he will offer his hand or smile or make a couple of noises. Mr B appears to enjoy socialising for a while and I feel this interaction is important for him. However Mr B soon lets me know if he has had enough of being around people by turning his back to them or choosing that moment to go and use the toilet.
Mr B is quite confident when at college and he knows where things such as the toilets are so as long as I know where he is he goes off to the toilets by himself and then makes his way back to me when he has finished, Mr B seems to like this independence. However if we are somewhere different I will support Mr B to find the toilets then wait for him nearby, this is for Mr B’s safety.
Once it is time for Mr B’s cookery lesson the tutor comes to get him and his other class mates. Mr B quite often leads the way to the class room as he knows exactly where he is going. Once in the class room there is a process to go through which over the weeks Mr B appears to gradually remember. I support Mr B to hang up his coat, and then pay his tutor for the lesson. Then we all sit down, Mr B appears to have a favourite place to sit as everyone week he goes to the same seat. Once the tutor has explained what they are going to cook today I support Mr B to wash his hands and put on his apron. Every week Mr B cooks in the same kitchen some weeks he remembers which one other weeks he needs a bit of encouragement to remember.
In the class there are between 2 and 4 other students with varying degrees of learning difficulties and they all learn in different ways. Most of them can recognise different pictures so the tutor puts pictures up on the board of the different equipment that they need to get out. Mr A however doesn’t recognise pictures so I support him to get the correct equipment out by telling him what is needed or sometimes showing him the equipment and asking him to get the same thing out. Mr B remembers where some things are and not others for example when Mr B is asked to get tea things out he immediately goes to the correct cupboard, gets out the right number of cups and saucers and knows exactly where the tea bags, milk etc is.
In this class Mr B was making muffins so I supported Mr B to collect and weigh out the correct ingredients, to mix everything together, to turn on the oven, to evenly fill the muffin cases and finally to put the cakes in the oven. Even though I was supporting Mr B for his own safety Mr B was the one doing each stage of the muffin making process. Mr B can get easily distracted by the other class mates as he always want to know what they are doing so for his own safety I must try and keep Mr B focused on what he is doing otherwise he could hurt himself.
Once the muffins were in the oven I supported Mr B to make a cup of tea he then sat down with his other class mates with tea and biscuits waiting for the muffins to cook. Once they were cooked Mr B put them in his cookery box ready to take home. Mr B then washed up his equipment, dried it and put it away. I then supported Mr B to get his things together making sure he had his bag and wallet.
Once we left college we started the process of getting the two buses home all the time Mr B was holding on to his cakes. I supported Mr B to show his bus pass, to get on and off the buses and to cross the roads.
By the time Mr B gets home from college it is time for dinner and then Mr B has one of his muffins and offers one to his other flat mates. Mr B appeared happy and relaxed with lots of smiling and giggling. It seems that Mr B enjoyed his day.
I think this day for Mr B is very important it allows him to access and use different services and facilities (the bus, the café and college itself). Even though Mr B is being supported the different parts to the day allows Mr B to be independent whilst keeping safe.