Who’s teaching who?

At the end of March this year, Colin moved into Bradbury Bungalow.

Colin had only been to visit at couple of times with his sister and social worker so we hadn’t spent as much time with him as we would have liked, but as a staff team we knew we would work together to make his transition as smooth as possible.

We knew that Colin was deaf and that he used some sign language and from what we had seen we thought he also used some Makaton. We were excited and a little apprehensive to put into practise what we had learnt over the years in training, but had not needed to use until now.

Once Colin joined us, it was apparent that he didn’t use Makaton and his BSL was a little ‘shaky’; many of his signs seem to be of his own invention. Luckily Colin is very patient and he helped us to ‘hone’ our skills. Initially it was like playing charades with lots of actions, pointing and even drawing pictures. We still sometimes forget when we call his name to ask him a question, tell him something or just to make general conversation that he cannot hear us, but we are getting there.

We do have a poster of the BSL finger spelling alphabet in view, booklets and leaflets, MacIntyre’s Top 50 signs and of course, there’s always Google to help us support Colin in his preferred way. So far Colin has started to use and understand at least 3 Makaton signs, staff have learnt their vowels (well, some of us, well me, I no longer need to write them on my fingertips!) and the picture rota for who’s supporting him during the day seems to reassure him of who will be around, although when we made it together he found some of our pictures highly amusing!

Every day both Colin and his staff team are learning new ways of communicating together, there is lots of laughter involved and a greater understanding of each other, which is the result we all want.

Jo-Anne Jones
Senior Support Worker
Bradbury Bungalow, Shrewsbury


  • Lowri Bartrum says:

    Jo, As a team, you are doing a really fab job with getting to know Colin. The warmth and camaraderie at Bradbury is just fantastic. You have all fostered a positive, warm and patient approach to getting to know Colin and he has responded in the same way. Your creativity around communication has been brilliant as well. Keep up the good work team.

  • Kate Webb says:

    This is a lovely blog. Thankyou for sharing. 12 years with Macintyre and I am still learning! ☺

  • Tess Marshall says:

    I love these stories where we are learning from the people we support just as much or even more than the other way around.

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks Jo – great to read that you and the team are learning new skills and polishing up on old ones you perhaps haven’t had to use previously. The important thing is that Colin has settled into his new home and as you all get to know each other better you can ensure that the support is tailored to him.

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