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  1. 1. Client Supervisory Skills Development During 2005, the horticultural therapists at the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project recognised that some of their clients might be ready to take on supervisory responsibilities. The potential supervisors were all clients who had attended the garden project for several years, but there was no information or advice available to guide the therapists as to whom to encourage further and how best to support them during the early stages. The following notes summarise the therapists’ experience of supporting the new supervisors. Together they make a step- by-step ‘how to’ guide to help other therapists. What do you look for in a new supervisor? Important capabilities that must be present before someone can try supervising are: Communication skills · Listening Waits until the other person has finished speaking, able to listen to the other person’s objections, uses questions to check alternatives and that other person has understood what to do. · Speaking Gives calm, clear, precise instructions that are appropriate to the other person’s ability to understand. Demonstration skills Is able to do task himself/herself. Gets/keeps the other person’s attention focused on main activities. Tailors job to other’s speed, knowledge and skills. Can ‘say it a different way’. Asks other person to repeat back what to do. Observation/watching skills For Health and Safety issues, for personal safety, for rate of task completion, for task quality, for signs that other person Thrive Briefing is losing interest or being distracted. Sheet no: Motivates others Uses praise and encouragement (verbal or non-verbal), gives reasons for doing task, builds team feeling. 13
  2. 2. Patience Willing to sit down next to other person and explain, several times if necessary. Does not fidget, ignore, walk away, argue (verbally or non- verbally). Self-management Sees what else needs to be – or could be – done. Able and willing to ask for help when things go beyond their own abilities to cope, will escalate issues (safety). Takes responsibility Willing to take responsibility for the task, for safety of others, for quality of work, for involvement/learning/sense of achievement of others. How do you get started? If someone has all the capabilities to become a supervisor: · Confirm the interest of that person in supervising others · Get them to shadow the therapist for a while · Practice with short episodes of supervising (with therapist not far away) · Sit down afterwards with the new supervisor and talk about what went well or needs more practice next time · Give more opportunities for supervisions. What do you need the new supervisor to know/be reminded of each time before they start? · Non-obvious disabilities or important skills issues of others that might affect how they work · When to stop · Where to put equipment or other materials at end of task · Where to find the therapist in an emergency. What do you need the new supervisor to say each time? New supervisors should learn to check routinely that the people they will be working with fully understand the task and how to use the tools: · Say what work is going to be done · Ask whether other person will help · Explain/demonstrate task and show how it fits with what others are doing · Check person has enough materials or knows where to get more · Ask if other person is OK using these tools · Tell them to ask if they need help.
  3. 3. Where can the new supervisor start? Good tasks/sessions to learn supervisory skills are ones where: · The new supervisor is only asked to supervise a maximum of two other people · Everyone is doing the same task or closely related tasks (e.g. one person potting up, another making labels) · NO machinery, and NO sharp tools are involved · The new supervisor and their team do NOT need to go out of sight or earshot of the therapist. What should you look for when reviewing a new supervisor’s achievements? The new supervisor’s achievements and the session during which they took on this role are recorded on the standard daily assessment form. Look for: · Interaction with the clients and how this has affected the work · The client’s task achievement · Evidence from the new supervisor of his/her understanding about what he/she is trying to achieve from supervising others · How well he/she explains/demonstrates the tasks to others. Do explanations suit the tasks being worked on at the time? · Is the person showing enough awareness of materials and where these are kept? · Does the person know when to ask for help when he/she hits a snag or becomes unsure of what to do? · Did they show how to complete the task verbally and non-verbally? · Did they know when to stop demonstrating and let others engage in the task? · Were they able to show patience even when trying to engage others who are not very good at the task? · Willingness to take some responsibility for the other person and for the tasks being worked on.  On being asked to be a supervisor  People with a range of sensory, physical and learning disabilities were invited to take on supervisory responsibilities and most responded well. Often the term ‘supervisor’ seemed rather daunting to clients (and they refused), whereas less formal ways of describing what they were being asked to do resulted in a positive response. One client with dementia who was willing to ‘keep an eye out’, was very helpful to other clients and proved an effective supervisor, keeping track of the task in hand.
  4. 4. Another client worked well as a supervisor during the day, but then became anxious later in the evening as she reflected on what she had been able to do for the first time. Supervisors’ views When clients were asked how they felt about acting as supervisors, their comments included: “I enjoyed doing supervision very much. I got a sense of responsibility in the eyes of the staff and clients.” This increased self-esteem and involvement was echoed by several new supervisors. One talked about how she loves to help others enjoy the open space and this role gives her the chance to help others understand their problems and hers. “It took the focus away from my own problems, and I think it was good to give a role model: when I take on this role I feel included one-to-one with everybody.” Another new supervisor said that above all he just enjoyed “using his eyes for the staff”, not just working whilst others work. “The staff can then concentrate more on clients with high special needs.” Increased confidence in communication can extend beyond the garden. “I enjoyed doing this very much. I feel wiser and stronger in conversation with people in the garden and with carers and people who come to do work at my home. I also find it easier to talk to people outside Thrive, like in shops, bus drivers and so on.” Final Comments This research forms With careful planning, consultation and support, becoming a part of Investigating supervisor has proved to be very successful in creating new Gardens, a research opportunities for a wide range of disabled people. For clients series undertaken by who have been attending a garden project for several years, horticultural therapists being asked to ‘keep an eye out’ and supervise the work of at Thrive Garden others can bring a great sense of involvement and Projects. responsibility. May 2006

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