Appreciation and One-Page Profiles

On Saturday night, my 13- year-old daughter Laura asked me if she could do another one-page profile. Laura is proud to have had the very first one-page profile ever! This was when she was seven and was struggling at school because her teacher did not know her well, or how best to support her. From age 7 - 11 we updated her one-page profile every year, up to her transition to secondary school. We spent Saturday evening writing a new one and this evening she is finishing a self-portrait to go with it. This has got me thinking again about the headings in a one page profile and in particular, how they convey appreciation.

LauraThere are three components of a one-page profile. They are usually referred to as 'like and admire'; what is important to you; and best to support you. In person-centred thinking, we talk about this being what is 'important to you' and what is 'important for you', and the balance between the two. Chocolate is important to Laura. As her parent, I have to try and balance how important chocolate is to Laura, with how it is important for her to have healthy teeth and limit her fat and sugar intake. Therefore she has chocolate on her list of what is important to her and the support section reflects the balance we have negotiated of no more than two treats a day.

Over the last week, I have developed a new understanding of just how important the appreciation section of a one-page profile is. The first people to benefit from person-centred thinking and planning were people with learning disabilities.   I understood the 'like and admire' section as a way to balance and redress the negative stereotypes people had endured.

As one-page profiles are now used widely, for example with people who have long term health conditions, with older people and people who use mental health services, the term 'like and admire' started to jar and people expressed concerns about this being patronising. We even talked in the team about whether having any sort of 'like and admire' was necessary.

My view now is absolutely, yes we do.

Last week I was immersed in Appreciative Inquiry during a summit with the HSA and HSA Press teams. We were planning what we want to achieve together over the next two years. We started with individual interviews and storytelling and shared what other people appreciated about us. This did not feel patronising but rather life affirming and a great place to think about change by building on what was good.

This has convinced me that we absolutely need to keep a focus on appreciation in every plan, in every review and in every one-page profile. Everyone needs to keep hearing and thinking about what is valuable, admired and appreciated about them. Nancy Kline, author of 'Time to Think', talks about how important it is for people to feel appreciation, in order to think well for themselves and how much we need this in our culture.

"Everyday the world pulls us down, shakes us up, slices into us, laughs at our attempts and belittles our triumphs. We need to hear afresh every day a few good things that are honestly good about us."  Nancy Kline

You can use whatever language makes sense to people in describing these appreciations. My daughter Laura personally likes the heading what people 'like and admire' about her. Now, when I talk and write about one-page profiles, I am describing this as the 'appreciation' section, and it has a new sense of significance for me.

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