This article comprises of excerpts taken from a guide to one-page profiles on Community Care Inform Children, written by Pippa Murray, author of books documenting the lives of disabled families. The full guide includes detailed information on building a one-page profile and how to use it in practice. Subscribers can read the guide on Inform Children.
What are one-page profiles?
A one-page profile is very simply a single sheet of paper with three headings – what people like and admire about me; what’s important to me; and how best to support me. The aim of a one-page profile is to give a brief overview about a child or young person, outlining what others love about them, what they love doing, who they love being with, and how they like others to help them. One-page profiles are not designed to convey detail, but to give an enticing and positive flavour of personality, strengths and aspirations. A one-page profile provides information to use as a starting point for discussions about a child, their family and their life.
One-page profiles are a great person-centred involvement technique; their simplicity belies their potential for radically transforming negative views about disabled children and young people. The positivity shining out from an effective one-page profile serves to give the sense of the child or young person being fully human. A one-page profile is one way of helping us to see beyond impairment to the child and family underneath.
Using person-centred approaches with disabled children and their families
Meaningful engagement with disabled children and their families grows from finding out what people care about and what the disabled child or young person has to offer.
Imagine that you are meeting a disabled child and their family for the first time. Imagine the conversation you might have with their parents. Imagine your first question to those parents being “what do you love about your child the best?” as opposed to “what is wrong with your child?” or “what syndrome or disability does your child have?” Taking this simple shift of perspective (“what do you love best about..?” versus “what is wrong with..?”) allows us to move away from a deficit view of a child to one that is celebratory and loving.
Take a moment to consider how it might feel to be on the receiving end of those questions. Imagine you are the child’s parent rather than the social worker. Which question would you rather answer? Which question would help you connect to the child you love? And which question would help you feel comfortable with the professional you have just met?
Developing a one-page profile at the first meeting with a child and/or their family can be a very positive way to start building a relationship. At the same time it will give you information about how you can best get to know and support the child.
Working with the whole family to develop individual and family profiles can help social workers change the conversation they have with children and parents.
Building a one-page profile
One-page profiles should only be gathered with the full permission of the child and their family. The profile belongs to them.
“I knew the profile was a good one because it meant something to my son. He loved looking at it and within a week it was crumpled and had stains on it. I was delighted that he related to it so strongly.” (Parent, personal correspondence.)
A one-page profile is built on three simple questions:
- What do you like and admire about Rosie?
- What makes Rosie happy?
- What help does Rosie need?
If a child or young person is at a point of transition, for example, from nursery to school; from primary to secondary school; from secondary school to college or employment, it can be useful to add a fourth question:
- What are your hopes for the future?