“Ask Amanda”…introducing our Family Consultant
Discovery Latest7 December 2018
Our parent company, Dimensions, has pioneered the use of family consultants to champion the role and rights of families within our support, and where necessary to act as a stone in the organisation’s shoe. Discovery is delighted to welcome Amanda Watson into that role with us in Somerset. Over to Amanda:
Hi! I’m Amanda, one of 11 Associate Family Consultants working across England and Wales with Dimensions, Discovery and Waymarks. The Associate Family Consultant role was developed to ensure the voice of families is heard at every level of the organisation and beyond. The role is varied and responsive to need but can involve quality checking services, supporting local families and bringing a family perspective to Discovery’s strategy and policy development, service improvement and campaign work.
What qualifies me to be an Associate Family Consultant?
Well, primarily it’s that I am Mum to Simon (32). Simon has autism and a learning disability. Life as Simon’s Mum has not been straight forward. It’s been a journey of ups, downs and the occasional tornado. A thousand different emotions have peppered the last 30 years: tears and laughter; love and frustration; anxiety and relief; hope and fear; loneliness and confusion. Oh…… and I’ve also managed to squeeze in being a wife, mother (to Nic), a daughter and a Nanna; and had a career as a project manager.
I’ve learned so much from this journey. I’ve learned to recognise good and bad support. I’ve stumbled my way through the maze of bureaucracy, benefits, panels and policies to bring Simon to a point where he is now supported to live in his own forever home.
Why did I become an Associate Family Consultant?
Over the years, my experience of Support Providers has been disappointing and occasionally infuriating. I have always strived to work closely with them, largely because I need to feel confident about the quality and sustainability of Simon’s support. All too often I have ‘scratched the gleaming surface’ of an organisation and found that what is underneath is far from gold. I’ve learned that it is important for me to be able to test the culture and standards, and the best way for me to do that is meet people who work at all levels and all areas. So, about a year after Dimensions started to support Simon, I applied for the role of Family Expert Quality Checker. This role enabled me to see at first-hand how services across the South were managed, and how quality issues were identified and addressed. Being a Quality Checker enabled me to voice concerns, suggest improvements, and say ‘that’s great’, from the perspective of a family. When the role of Associate Family Consultant was created, it felt like a natural progression for me.
How can I help?
I’m here to support Discovery families to work with Discovery Support Workers and Management to get the best possible outcomes for their family members. I can also provide guidance on topics like, Supported Living, Deputyship, Person Centred Support and End of Life Planning. If there is anything that you are uncertain of, uncomfortable with, or curious about don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and ‘Ask Amanda’ . We can work it out together. I look forward to hearing from you.
Pictured: Amanda with her son Simon