Learning Together is a small agency providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and/or poor mental health. Typically, the individuals we support have challenged traditional behavioural support services to the extent they have been incarcerated and/or excluded from mainstream community services.
Learning Together was first established – more...in 2008. Initially, the company provided assessment and consultation services to families affected by autism spectrum conditions throughout the UK. In 2012, we started to provide direct support services to adults in Gloucestershire. While we still provide services to families and external agencies, the bulk of our work is now centred on our direct-support work with adults.
Our aims are to:
1. Provide an alternative option to traditional support services and approaches.
2. Promote the values of Inclusion and a ‘Culture of Gentleness’ within Gloucestershire.
3. Promote reflective practice so as to empower support personnel to understand that it is they who make the difference – their direct interactions have a profound effect on each individual’s ability to thrive.
4. Ensure the individuals we serve feel safe and unconditionally valued, that they continually develop a better quality of life and are able to perceive themselves as active participants in their own life project.
5. Work closely with individuals and their circle of support to ensure that any approach used is tailored to his/her unique profile – their individual needs, vulnerabilities, learning / interactional style, their hopes and their dreams.
Relationships Matter Most
At Learning Together, behaviour problems are viewed as relationship problems. Challenging behaviours are viewed as an individual’s way of communicating that his/her life is not working for them. The real challenge is not the person’s behaviour but finding ways to nurture, teach and sustain their experience of being in safe and trusting relationships. Relationships built on mutual trust open the world up for those we support and are the foundation of all goals. When in doubt as to what the ‘right thing’ to do is, we encourage our caregivers to act in manner that will support the relationship.
All relationships should grow and develop over time. Conflict is a critical part of the growth and development process. Our collective challenge is not to eliminate the arguments and emotion but to create a safe environment where they can be challenged, understood and resolved with care and compassion, by people who won’t give up.
All planning and support must be consistent with a basic value base. Our focus is not to modify the person’s behaviour or ‘fix’ them in any way. Our focus is the person’s quality of life. In challenging times, we ask caregivers to uphold the basic values of Gentleness, Kindness, Companionship, Community and Inclusion. Our work is underpinned by the belief that one day, the people we support should each live a normal life, in a normal house, in a normal street. This ‘North Star vision’ helps to remind us that our ambition is for people to eventually have real lives of their own.
We recognise that this is a lifetime project. Some people will make faster progress than others. Our challenge is to maintain the circle of support’s collective vision and direction, especially during difficult times. – less