Connecting with families
Monday 20 November 2017

Janet ShmulevitchEarlier this year I had a really interesting opportunity to work alongside one of Brandon’s graduate trainees in co-producing some guidance that we hope will prove useful to people we support, their families, friends, and Brandon frontline staff.  The work looked at how best to involve families (or chosen families) in the support of their relative, and if they choose, in the wider life of Brandon.

Responses from last year’s annual survey told us that we don’t always get this right for families. So, we set about connecting with families, the people we support, and staff through interviews, group discussions, and written feedback to find out how we could do things better. The result of that work is the Family Charter.

What really struck me when we were researching the Charter was how much good work is already going on across Brandon, where families have built strong and productive relationships with the teams that support their relative. Where we were doing less well, families said they were unclear on how they could or should communicate with Brandon, or what they could expect to be involved in.

The Family Charter is a short, easy-to-understand overview on how Brandon supports people to make their own decisions, and how we work alongside families where individuals may need some support to make decisions in their best interest.

It explains how families can create a family agreement if appropriate, and how one-page profiles can be used to share information that’s important to each family. It also covers how families can give feedback on everything from their relative’s care, getting involved in staff recruitment and training, to our strategy as a business.

Importantly, the Charter also sets out how families can flag concerns and how we expect families to communicate with Brandon staff so that dialogue is always respectful and effective.

Family members can keep in touch with us in many ways, through direct contact and meetings with support workers, our social media, website, and our Family and Friends newsletter. We’ve added a new Families page to our website which is where families can find the Family Charter and other related news and information. It’s designed to be an evolving page, and we hope over time, that families will add to it with their own stories and images.

The Family and Friends newsletter is going through a little overhaul at the moment, so if you are already a subscriber and want to comment, please complete this short survey. If you don’t currently get the Family and Friends newsletter and would like to, please email familyandfriends@brandontrust.org or call 0117 907 7200 and ask to be added. The next newsletter will be out in early 2018.

Janet Shmulevitch
Project Manager - Product Development