Liz Leach Murphy worked with Chris and his family from mid-2020 to mid-2022, supporting his brother (Dan) to move out of his current placement and into his own home. This is Liz’s perspective on working alongside Dan, Chris and the family.
Chris is a strong advocate for his brother Dan, and has a clear idea of what a good life would look like for him. When you see them together, the bond between them is clearly strong and built on brotherly love that cannot be replicated or replaced by the care and support that is provided via services or systems.
Through this bond it is clear that Chris has learned over their time growing up together what Dan likes and enjoys, and how he wants to be supported.
I first met Chris six years ago where I spent some time with him exploring self-directed support, the options available and establishing the best options available for Dan and how these options could be put in place and managed over the long-term on Dan’s behalf.
We spoke again at the start of the pandemic. Chris shared his growing frustration with the support Dan was receiving, and the recent directive he had been given that Dan would not be allowed to leave the house during lockdown. The fact that his one-to -one support would not be welcome into the house was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Chris and his mum had simply had enough. They were tired of being ignored, sick of seeing their loved one treated with such disregard and the emotional toll on them was high. No family should have to go through this, especially not at the hands of the social ‘care’ system.
Chris asked for my help and together we gained the support from the Local Authority to look at other options for Dan. The Local Authority agreed to spot-contract Imagineer to be a source of support for Dan, Chris and their mum as an independent Support Broker.
Together, we looked at what was needed to achieve the desired goal of finding a place that Dan could call home with a team supporting him who were completely focused on achieving a good quality of life. We then thought about who could lead in each area of the plan and between us we worked with a complete vision and dedication to achieving what the family were striving for. This involved firstly running some support planning sessions where we gathered the detail of ‘what good support looks like’ and then calculated a budget to present to commissioners. It involved a search for a home and finding an investor. It also involved regular meetings with the Local Authority to discuss progress.
From Chris contacting me again at the start of the pandemic and Dan moving into his own home with his own team took 18 months in total. Not bad considering Dan had been stuck in the provider service for over 18 years!
Three months into being in his own home, we carried out a story-gather session, facilitated using a process I had designed, and graphic recorded by the wonderful Mollie Williams. Present at the story-gather was of course Dan, his family, his support team, the registered manager, the social work lead for the Local Authority and a member of the commissioning team.
The day of the story-gather:
Photo (shared with permission): Dan & his brother Chris (centre) with Liz (standing on the far left) and other members of family & Circle of Support
During this time together we identified the exact point in time where it was recognised that change had to happen, the experience of making the change happen, what helped and what hindered. Each person present then talked about the difference it has made for Dan and for themselves, and we finished with a recognition that the momentum for achieving a good life is an ongoing pursuit. People then had an opportunity to share their ideas about what should happen next.
The main learning points captured from the session included:
So not only was this a chance for an open and reflective conversation which assisted an understanding of what conditions need to be in place to achieve real and positive change, it was a celebration of how this group of people came together to do what is right.
So what’s next? Swimming with dolphins in Florida, of course!
If you have any questions about our story gathering process, please email us: email@example.com