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#25stories – A worthwhile role


It’s hard to believe Mary finds the time to fit so much in. Mary is a student, an artist, and a Quality Checker.

Having been supported by Brandon for the last year, Mary became part of the first group of Brandon Quality Checkers six months ago. Mary is keen to help make sure other people receive the same level of support that she does. And if she can help to improve support generally, that’s even better.

Mary told us: “It’s important for us to have the opportunity to do the job, because I feel that our opinions, which come from our previous experience of having support, are essential. Support can only improve if those being supported are listened to.”

When Mary goes on a visit, she meets the people who live there plus any staff working there. She writes up her observations for staff to help them realise what they’re great at and identify any areas that could be better.

In this interview, Mary tells us about her role supporting the quality team.

How long have you been supported by Brandon Trust?

Since August or September 2018. I have support for around seven hours a week, mainly to help me with practising independence by leaving the house to do things by myself, without my parents’ assistance. They always let me plan the day in advance and make my own decisions for places to go and activities to do.

Why is it important to have Quality Checkers?

To see if there are any possible changes or improvements that can be made to support. It is also useful for us to meet people with different needs and disabilities, so we can gain a better understanding of their lives and the way their support works.

What is the best thing about being a Quality Checker?

The fact that I can express my honest opinion on the forms with no right or wrong way of answering the questions. I write my observations from things I notice in the houses and information from discussions on the visit. I can either complete the forms whilst in the house, or wait until I get home so I can have more time to think about my answers.

What is the hardest thing about being a Quality Checker?

I get very nervous when I visit other people’s houses and find it difficult to know what to say or use the right words. It’s hard for me to look and sound professional when I have communication difficulties myself, and sometimes my nerves get the best of me. Sometimes I forget questions or repeat them because I don’t get enough information from staff, so it’s hard to think of new questions. It can also be hard for me to interact with people who are non-verbal, as I am unsure about their way of communicating. I am aware that the people I visit may not have had a Quality Checker so it may be a new experience for them as well.

What are your top tips for support workers?

  1. Make sure you have a good understanding of the person’s disability to ensure all their needs are met. Focus on tailoring your support to each individual because everyone is different. Always let us make our own decisions about the support we need and how we live our lives, ensuring you make changes to our support when we ask for them.
  2. Be able to recognise when we are anxious, stressed, worried, or overwhelmed. Learn what causes these feelings for us, so we can find ways to identify and manage them. Always listen to, or read, everything we have to say about our worries and give us your best advice to help us find solutions to our problems.

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