Communities of practice can operate at various levels in a care setting. When I began working in the capacity of Social Learning Mentor at the Hesley Group, the most obvious communities of practice involved the members of staff in a particular area or on a particular team, or a group of staff in the same role (eg. Speech and language therapists). For these communities of staff there was existing management, collaboration and time for the group to get together. For me, with the role of facilitating social learning of Intensive Interaction, it was natural to begin with these existing groups.
As I started teaching on the 3 week induction course I found that the new starters had an energy and passion for the practice that often exceeded that of the people already in the job because their perspective was not inhibited by preconceptions or scepticism. My experience is that, on the whole, new support workers see immediately how communicating responsively is going to make a difference to their job tomorrow and so they are receptive to the teaching, are enthusiastic to try it out and are looking for opportunities to develop the new skills.
After the induction session I make an effort to follow up with the new starters to see how they are going. One such support worker gave me the following feedback:
“I attended the August Induction training and I would never have thought of copying someone’s behaviour if it wasn’t explained to me in the video and by Matt. Now whenever I support someone new to me I look at their behaviour for ways to connect. I find that if I get positive eye contact then this usually leads to a good day. For example, when I supported one individual I was told that he only likes his regular staff. When the other staff saw me doing the Responsive Communication that Matt taught us they asked me if I was an assistant psychologist! I told that I was just doing what I was trained to do on induction. Now I work for the eye contact and this leads me to moments of this is why I come to work… It makes me smile everyday.”