About Me: Exemplar’s new video project led by service users

Exemplar’s Service User Engagement Manager, Sophia Feurtado introduces a new video project featuring service users from Exemplar’s homes

I work to empower service users at every Exemplar home, encouraging, supporting and championing people to live the life they choose. A few months into working for Exemplar Health Care, I formed a Service User Council. So far we have 15 service users involved, each who act as an ambassador for their home –so much progress has been made over the past several months!  Earlier in the summer, seven members of the Service User Council took part in a brand new project called About Me. The project is a series of short videos where service users share  candid interviews about their lives, and what they make of life in their home.

I thought it was really important for Exemplar colleagues, for health care professionals and the wider community to hear from service users directly, about what they think about the care they receive. It’s one thing having homes and my Service User Engagement teams acting on behalf of service users, but recognizing individuals have their own voice and giving them a way to be heard by everyone is so much more powerful.

Throughout filming, the participants couldn’t wait to share their story. I hope we made the group realise how important it is for others to hear from them directly. Exemplar’s service users can help others by sharing their stories– be it health care professionals for knowledge and insight, care teams for training and development or for the wider community to simply understand what life is like when you have a complex disability.

The most important thing I picked up on throughout the two days filming was that our service user were so happy to share the positive differences they created for themselves. The participants have developed new abilities and skills, or have rediscovered old abilities since being in their home. People living in care homes are a huge part of their community. When you take the time to listen, you realise how much you can learn from the people who live in our homes and how our great teams can help people help themselves – not do things for people.

When someone first comes to a care home it can be very daunting. If their disability or condition is one which has been acquired – such as a brain injury – it can be hard for a person to remember the power they had before the accident. The films show just how far our service users have come, the new confidence they have found within themselves and the progress of their rehabilitation journey. Throughout filming, I couldn’t help but think how much the video diaries will help other people in a similar situation. Adam is in his early-twenties and lives with significant disabilities following a bleed on his brain. I was astonished at how he so fluently uses technology to communicate with others. Adam has a long way to go before he is fully rehabilitated, but the video shows just how far he has come already – and done it while maintaining his sense of humour!

The About Me films will preview in September. I’m confident they’ll have a huge impact on many different people. They should be seen by people who need care, their families and those who live in care homes. I want health and social care commissioners and funders to watch as it will give them real insight into what happens to people in Exemplar homes. I plan for other service users – in and out of Exemplar homes – to see them and discover the power of working towards their personal goals. I think families and care colleagues will get a different insight into care from these films as they are so honest.

This project is a massive achievement for the seven service users who took part. I hope it gives everyone living in care the confidence to know that they have the power to affect change over their own lives and on the lives of others.

I am incredibly proud of each and every individual who took part and I can’t wait to share the final videos. Take a sneak peek at the images below…

Sophia Feurtado is Exemplar’s award winning Service User Engagement Manager. Her creative approach to service user engagement is what drives individual towards their goals. She actively encourages homes to take a different outlook and approach to meaningful engagement, over and above the normal approaches by other care providers. For more information on engagement within an Exemplar home, or to speak with Sophia directly – please email sfeurtado@exemplarhc.com.