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At Symbol we have a particular way of doing things.  This has grown out of our extensive experience of seeking to consistently deliver excellent support to people with learning disabilities.   We know that the learning is never over, so we have created a model that represents how we go about designing and delivering our services whatever they are.  At the heart of this model is the recognition we need to ensure that we review, learn from and make changes to what we do on an on-going basis.   We do this with the wholehearted intention of offering the very best that we can.  We are totally committed to the people we support and so we have called this process the COMMIT Model. 

This commitment starts with the individual seeking support and then extends to their families and to any Care Managers or Commissioners involved.   At the heart of our commitment lie the principles of always seeking to:

  1. Genuinely understand the individual; their strengths, needs and aspirations
  2. Create, deliver and constantly update a bespoke model of support
  3. Practice outstanding team work.

To design and deliver our support we follow the following 4-stage cyclical process no matter who the individual is or what type of service they may be ultimately seeking:

STAGE 1 – Meet

As soon as Symbol is approached we arrange a time to meet with the person needing support and the key people in their lives.  We use the term “really meet”, because right from the start we seek to genuinely understand what people want for their lives, the nature of the challenges that they face (as well as those they love) and their specific strengths and needs.   When we meet with them we:

  • Always ensure that an experienced member of the Symbol leadership team is present at the initial meeting,
  • Focus on enabling everybody present to feel comfortable,
  • Facilitate a conversation about what people hope for, their strengths, needs and the challenges they face,
  • Listen and watch very carefully to what is being communicated and
  • Double check that everybody has the same understanding about the issues and what the next steps will be.

STAGE 2 – Co-Create

  • After this initial meeting Symbol sets out to create a bespoke support response that will begin to meet the aspirations and needs identified.  To do this we:
  • Put together a ‘Create Team’ comprising those Symbol employees with the specific experience/expertise to develop the opportunities being sought, to include an experienced manager, support workers and where required Symbol’s extended in-house team of professionals such as Speech and Language Therapists, psychologists, nurses etc.
  • Facilitate further meetings with the person seeking support, to assess their skills and needs and associated risks in more detail.  These will frequently include visits to see the person within other settings e.g. their school / family home / respite service etc.
  • Develop a very individual draft plan of support, based on an initial theory of what at this stage we believe will work best.  We do this in collaboration with Care Management and any Community Team Learning Disability professionals involved and we ensure that it is properly informed by the care plans generated by the Local Authority.

STAGE 3 – The Symbol Test

Once the draft plan is created, we undertake what we call the ‘Symbol Test’ to be sure that it meets our core values and standards.  The ‘Create Team’ is tasked with answering a set of 11 questions:

  1. Are we confident that we are the most appropriate organisation to provide this package of support at this time?
  2. Does the plan enable the person to progress towards their goals?
  3. Does the plan support the person to move forward at their pace?
  4. Does the plan promote genuine inclusion for the person with their community?
  5. Is the support proposed offered in the least restrictive environment?
  6. Do the levels of support represent the principles of ‘Just Enough’ and therefore promote independence?
  7. Have we identified a consistent manager with the right expertise.
  8. Have we identified and arranged access to specialist input where needed (Speech and Language Therapy, Psychology etc.)?
  9. Do we know where we will find the right direct support staff who can work flexibly in the light of the individual’s changing needs?
  10. Have we agreed how this plan is going to be reviewed and how often?
  11. Have the resources required by this plan been agreed with the people funding this package?

When these questions can be answered appropriately, the initial plan is agreed and signed off by a member of Symbol’s leadership team.

STAGE 4 – Deliver, Review & Develop

The manager identified to oversee this package of support is now responsible for delivering, reviewing and further developing it.  They will do so by:

  • Putting arrangements in place to begin the package of support.  These arrangements will include a variety of potential tasks (but will not be limited to) recruiting, training and matching staff to the individual, identifying, adapting and personalising property solutions, researching and sourcing local activities, opportunities and resources, writing initial care plans etc.  Throughout this, Symbol will ensure that they continue to communicate effectively and involve the individual, their family, their Care Manager etc. in the practicalities.
  • Starting and overseeing the package within an agreed time frame and over an agreed transition period as necessary.
  • Convening an initial review with all the key people and in line with the arrangements agreed in the ‘Symbol Test’.
  • Making amendments to the package in the light of learning and updating the support plan.
  • Convening ongoing reviews in collaboration with the Local Authority on a cyclical basis so ensuring that the package continues to evolve in the light of progress being made, learning taking place and the changing hopes for the future of those being supported and their families. 
  • Agreeing changes in support packages and associated funding with the Local Authority with support of a member of Symbol’s leadership team.