Having recently completed one year working with MacIntyre after a career in a completely different environment, the recent focus on Great Interactions within the company has encouraged me to examine the way I have interacted with the people I support. Most of the interactions we think about tend to be conversations or actions which are happening at one particular time but equally a great interaction can be created by groundwork and providing the right environment.
I work at a Learning Centre and one man I support used to interact with staff, but in a group setting would be distant, often to the point of turning his back on the group. I also worked respite shifts with him and his usual way of initiating conversation would be to say something nonsensical and then asked me if I had ever heard of it. He would say something like “I like strawberries going to the moon on a cheese bicycle. Andy have you ever heard of it?”. I would reply “no!” and then he would laugh and ask, “who have I got this time?”. This was all good fun but the question was how to take it to the next level.
On these respite shifts we would sometimes go bowling and the next step was fairly obvious, bring someone else with us to create a more social environment. Another person who enjoyed bowling and thrived on social interaction was keen to come, and the seed was sown.
At first the man from my learning centre could not understand why he should be in a group because to him it simply meant he had to take turns in bowling, but after a while he began to enjoy the company of the new group member and a friendship started to develop. The moment it all came together happened when we were driving to the bowling alley. Instead of just one of them making up nonsense, they joined forces to ‘get one over’ their support worker. It was a rendition of the Postman Pat song but with a twist. It started like this…
Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his red and white cat,
Early in the morning, he has his fish and chi-ips
Pat has got a chocolate, yellow van.
They alternated singing a line each and then at the end asked simultaneously “Have you ever heard of it?”. They both laughed and it was one of those magical moments because for the first time they were working as a team and we were all interacting as a group in a totally natural, uninhibited way. This was vindication for me that all the groundwork had been worthwhile.
Anyway I need to go away now and plot my revenge. How about?
One, two, three, four, five, I found a sardine on my drive,
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, I gave it to a cat called Ben.
Have you ever heard of it?
Learning Support Worker, Milton
Keynes Lifelong Learning