Everyone at Coriander Road will tell you that Gumbo has a “magic touch” when it comes to supporting Steve. Whenever Gumbo is around, Steve is calm, he is smiling and willing to engage. No matter the start to the day, as soon as Gumbo’s car pulls up on the driveway, Steve will relax and smile, and even pick up the activity that was offered “like nothing happened”.
Everyone wants to know Gumbo’s secret.
When I observed the interaction between the two, what strikes me first is the incredible warmth, like two friends enjoying each other’s company, Gumbo and Steve seem to tune into each other. Steve communicates with words and photos, and depending on how he feels on the day, his ability to understand words will vary-so Gumbo always has photos to hand, and will use fewer words if Steve appears anxious. Steve might find eye contact unpleasant, but he will at times come close and look into your face looking for reassurance – the fine skill is to take the lead from Steve and not to overload him, and know when to step back.
Another skill for any staff who support Steve is to stop the natural desire to be loud and cheerful-Steve may find this uncomfortable, but Gumbo is quiet and humble in his interactions with Steve. The result is an amazing relationship between the two and a great example for us all to learn from. Over the last year Gumbo has been mentoring the staff team who work closely with Steve on the ways Steve likes to be supported, by using My Key to Developing Facilitation Skills, shadowing and observations, so that we have more staff who support Steve with “the magic touch”.