Regular readers will be aware that Shared Lives Plus has been a keen supporter of a Canadian social enterprise called Tyze Personal Networks, which has now established a UK-based Community Interest Company. Midland Heart, a large provider of care and support, has been offering Tyze Personal Networks to its service users and its employees. Tyze helps people with support needs and their carers to use social networking technology to oil the wheels of real-life support networks, allowing people to get more organised with a shared calendar, task list etc and helping the individual, family carers and professionals to collaborate on a more equal basis, creating a more ‘networked’ model of care.
Matthew Kemp, Midland Heart’s Tyze coordinator, has kindly shared three examples of the difference having a Tyze network has made to an employee and two people who use services:
Finley is a four year old who is cared for by Richard, a Midland Heart employee, and his wife Michelle. Finley was born with a rare chromosome deletion, which causes a developmental delay and learning difficulties.
To manage the condition, Finley requires involvement from health professionals including consultants, speech therapists, physiotherapists and dieticians, as well as having a dedicated support team at school. Finley often has more than one appointment a week which can be quite demanding on Richard and Michelle.
Richard wanted a tool that could bring everyone together to coordinate care and keep everyone, including Finley’s concerned relatives, up to date:
“Having a network of people who care about him and want the best for him is really reassuring. We have his consultant, physiotherapist and speech therapist on his network. They can monitor his wellbeing and for the first time communicate between each other, which is a major plus for us.”
Finley’s support team at school joined the network to be part of the conversation and can now understand what is being said by health professionals, meaning they change care arrangements as appropriate.
Tyze gave the family the tools to send messages but also to store important documents on the condition, helping his network understand his condition better and letting them know what role they could play in improving his wellbeing.
“My family has found our network for Finley to be really useful, particularly the appointments calendar. Our extended family members can access the network so we can keep everyone up-to-date without having ten separate conversations.”
Richard and Michelle have developed the network for Finley but it also gave them the reassurance of having people around. “The ability to coordinate care at a click of a button has taken a lot of stress off the family, being safe in the knowledge that I can ask for help at any time”.
A circle of support requires open channels of communication to help everyone involved coordinate care and support. This was the case for Tracy, a Midland Heart customer living in domiciliary care. Tracy has some support needs that require involvement from family, support workers and health professionals. At her home she is supported to maintain her tenancy and build up life skills to maximise her independence.
With such an extensive range of support and constantly changing daily activities it is sometimes difficult to monitor what is happening in her life, particularly as she has many supporters that come and go. The introduction of a network to pull everyone together seemed an ideal solution. Tyze messaging had an immediate impact enabling Tracy and her support workers to keep her family up to date with what was happening in her life. Tracy messages family to let them know how she is managing her tasks and achieving her personal goals, like being more active and going swimming.
Her extended family network have been invited so Tracy can now use Tyze to socialise with family she did not see every week. This is something that was previously difficult as other social media didn’t offer her the privacy she wanted.
The support workers have used Tyze to upload pictures of Tracy learning new skills and being active in managing her own tasks. This has been effective in motivating Tracy and showing people what skills she is using to complete tasks. Tracy’s achievements can be seen by all her network who have commented to celebrate her achievements.
Susan Hill, team leader at Midland Heart identified Tracy as someone who would benefit greatly from an online network in communicating and sharing information:
“Support workers have been working with Tracy uploading her photos of her doing housework and learning new skills. It has been great to see everyone taking an interest in what Tracy is up to and being a part of her circle of support to encourage her to take on new challenges.”
Tyze was introduced to Tracy’s dialectical behavior therapy team. Her psychologist, Aubrey, works closely with Tracy and she attends weekly sessions. Aubrey has uploaded information and videos onto the network that Tracy can access at home:
“I have uploaded a video onto Tyze which Tracy can view at any time as well as her network to see the work we are doing together. This is really helpful as a record of what we are working on in our one to ones and it enables Tracy to work on things outside of our sessions.”
Simon is a young man residing in supported housing. He manages his own support needs with the help of onsite support staff and other agencies. Simon lives a busy lifestyle involved in a number of social and sporting activities as well as enrolling on two college courses. With an increasing number of appointments he needed a tool that could help him co-ordinate his time and help him to stay in touch with everyone but also enabled him to stay independent.
He began using Tyze primarily as a way of securely linking everyone together, since opening his network he has invited many of his key workers, nurse and social worker on. He can now communicate with his network quickly without the need for asking others to contact them on his behalf. Simon has been encouraging his network to use it as a constant method of communication, sending private and network messages.
With more and more happening in his life, Simon decided to use the calendar to keep track of appointments. The shared facility helped others makes sure they didn’t plan conflicting appointments and make more efficient use of time.
Before using Tyze Simon had no prior IT experience, but now he has enrolled on an IT college course. Simon recognised how Tyze has helped and inspired him to develop his IT skills:
“I wanted to begin to use Tyze to organise my life. It’s great to have people on my network who can support me. When I first used Tyze I didn’t know how to use a computer properly, now using Tyze has helped me develop these skills and hopefully with this IT course I can start using the other functions of Tyze”.
One of his support workers said: “Simon has embraced Tyze to communicate with his support network, this can only be a good thing and help develop him towards further independence”
Simon’s network now includes photos of his achievements which he proudly shares with his network and he hopes to soon to share his certificates when he completes his college courses.