The Wheel of Engagement

14 June 2019  1 Comments

In this week’s blog I would like to share with you all a new campaign we launched back in March, the Wheel of Engagement.

At CMG and Regard, our absolute priority is enabling the people we support to have the best possible quality of life. A key to this is ensuring they are meaningfully engaged in activities and relationships, both at home and in the community.

I wanted to create a visual aid for staff that was eye catching and easy to identify specific areas of engagement and promote good practice and quality support in our services. It’s been received really well, considering it started off as a scribbled down wheel placed on my marketing manager’s desk.

Please see the Wheel of Engagement below and a brief description of each area of engagement:








Total communication 

Many people with learning disabilities cannot read or write. Every person is a unique individual, and a significant number of people with learning disabilities do find additional communications systems helpful.  This can include using pictures and symbols to help make reference.

We should ensure that when supporting people, we are using the right form of communication for them, and helping them have opportunities to make choices and have control over their lives.

Active community involvement   

We want the people we support to play an active part role in the community, and be valued members of it. There are a wide variety of ways in which people can do this, and it very much depends on people’s likes and preferences.  Examples can include participating in local allotments, joining community groups and being part of clubs.  For example, a number of people we support have successfully lost weight at local swimming clubs. It’s also very important to take into account people’s cultural background. We support people from a wide variety of different countries and cultures.

Intensive interaction  

Particularly for people with a more profound disability, we may need to find different and creative ways to stimulate and engage them.  Intensive interaction can be particularly useful in doing this.  It is a type of adult play, which requires staff to be trained to understand how to engage and interact with people.

Leisure and exercise 

We know that exercise is good for us both mentally and physically, it also provides a good opportunity to get to know other people in the community.  We would like to encourage the people we support to get involved in leisure and exercise activities of their choice. We support people in a huge range of areas including martial arts, cycling, swimming, going to the gym and rock climbing.

Positive behaviour support 

A number of the people we support can present ‘challenging behaviour’.  In order for them to have active and fulfilling lives we need to help them minimise the level of their challenging behaviour, which we see as a form of communication.  PBS is a method for identifying why people present challenging behaviours and helping them minimising it through ensuring their needs are met.

Person centred active support

It is extremely important that the people we support are actively involved in every aspect of everyday life, including cooking, shopping, cleaning, hoovering and gardening.  Irrespective of people’s disability, staff should support them to participate, even if it’s only for a short period of time, if there is a limited attention span, or if the individual requires handover hand support.  The staff should never do things for people, the staff should do things ‘with them’.

Voluntary work  

Voluntary work can provide really meaningful activity for an individual, and an opportunity to build relationships. It also means that people are playing an active role helping their community, rather than just being a recipient of their support.  A large number of people supported by CMG and Regard play an active role as a volunteer member of the community for example, working in charity shops.

Sensory stimulation

A number of people we support, including a proportion of people with a diagnoses of autism, benefit from and enjoy sensory stimulation. There are a whole range of different sensory activities people can use, including participating in sensory cooking, sensory stories, and using sensory equipment, for example mats.  For the people who benefit from sensory stimulation, this should be encouraged as part of their daily activities.

Paid employment

We actively support people, wherever possible, to get a paid job.  This could be for just a couple of hours a week, or anything up to fulltime work.  Paid employment brings huge self-esteem to the individual concerned, increases their financial freedom, and provides a great way of meeting new people.

Below are two examples of ‘Wheel Engagement’ Stories:

Andrew finds friends and happiness at church  (Perryn Road)  

Andrew from Perryn Road is being supported by staff to attend church every Sunday. He enjoys standing at the main entrance, where he hands out church service leaflets to the members attending. This gives him the opportunity to meet and socialise with his local neighbours and other fellow Christians with which he shares his faith.

Perryn Road staff said “After his time at church, Andrew feels very happy, and he then stays on afterwards for tea, and to chat with the Priest and other members.”

Andrew is well known at the church, especially by Father John who often visits him at Perryn Road, and offer prayers for him on special days such as his birthday or at Christmas time.

Olufunke, service manager, said “We’re delighted that Andrew has found such happiness and positive social connection in doing this!”


Alfred’s vote  (Restormel Terrace)

 Alfred from Restormel Terrace voted for the very first time, after staff explained the voting process to him via visual guidance.  Alfred made his decision after a period where staff watched the news with him, and were impartial with their own opinions, supporting him to make his own judgement.

Alfred was extremely proud of himself that he made his final decision without staff influence.  He decided who to vote for by weighing up pros and cons, and by using information he accessed through technology and TV.  Alfred also read leaflets that were posted through the door by local councillors to inform his choice.

The staff team said “We’re all so proud of Alfred’s confidence to vote!”

More great examples below:

  • At Oakview they support people with profound and multiple learning disabilities to participate in sensory cooking. They have also supported someone to go abseiling in their wheelchair.
  • I was very impressed to see a person we support at Stafford Lodge making his own milkshake with verbal prompting from staff which is a great example of person centred active support.
  • At Trafalgar one of the people we support has a section of the garden where he is growing his own fruit and vegetables.
  • A person we support in Alderwood is training to be a Proactscip instructor. Once she is qualified she will be the first person with a learning disability in the country to achieve this.
  • A person we support at Byfield Court is helping give donated food to homeless people.
  • A person we support at Fox House has set up their own small business.
  • A person we support at Two Wells has a paid job at Costa Coffee. She was very proud to receive an award recently at the Costa staff awards ceremony.


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