The Choice Care Group has its own psychology department based at head office in Reading. There are also two satellite offices; one in Fareham, Hampshire and one in Highnam, Gloucestershire. The team is led by a Counselling Psychologist and 3 Clinical Psychologists who all have many years experience of working with people with learning disabilities, in both community and inpatient settings, and also with adults with mental health diagnoses.
Psychology is fully integrated into the Choice group ethos. A team of post-graduate assistant psychologists works throughout the homes under their supervision and direction, monitoring the behavioural, emotional and psychological needs of our service users. This allows the assistant psychologists to assess and intervene rapidly with individual guidance designed to help staff respond in the best way in order to increase quality of life, reduce distress, and improve the situation for the service user.
The Choice Care Group supports a large number of service users, each an individual with their own complex needs. Many may arrive with a history of behaviour which has challenged previous services. The team are able to offer a flexible and person-centred approach to reducing challenging behaviour and self-injury which can be so distressing for all parties concerned. A multi-model approach is used, with a solid foundation of experience in these areas. We focus on trying to understand the reasons why someone may be behaving as they are, altering the situation if necessary, and encouraging more appropriate methods of communication. We believe the communication skills of service users, social care workers and the psychology team are critical in this approach – and we therefore focus on these areas.
The psychology team also gets involved in preventative work aimed at promoting service users’ quality of life and further reducing inappropriate or difficult behaviour. One-to-one psychological therapeutic input is offered to individual service users where appropriate, and groups are run for service users to educate and promote emotional and psychological well-being.
Where appropriate, the psychology team will liaise with other health professionals within the local Community Learning Disability teams or Community Mental Health teams. This may involve making referrals to, and working alongside, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or nursing. The Choice Care group also employs an in-house Psychiatrist, Dr Quinn, with whom the psychology team has a close, proactive working relationship.
We recognise that within our homes social care workers play a crucial role in maintaining everyday positive interaction with service users, and that their responses at time of crisis can be invaluable. The psychology team therefore provides training to staff in areas such as Autistic Spectrum Conditions, Mental Health, Positive Behavioural Support, Intensive Interaction and Sexuality. Staff training is also tailored where an individual need is identified.
The Choice Care Group values the role of psychology highly in supporting the complex needs of its service users and improving their quality of life. We feel this service is integral to the person-centred approach of our company.