On Purpose & Connection - guest blog by Ioanna Konstantinidou

Ioanna Konstantinidou is a Senior Board Certified Behaviour Analyst who trained at the University of Kent's disability research unit 'The Tizard Centre' before joining Green Light where she has led the implementation of Positive Behaviour Support for adults with autism and challenging behaviour. Ioanna was recently accepted onto Post Graduate Doctoral Research studies with Queen's University Belfast's, Centre for Behaviour Analysis where she will be supervised by Professor Karola Dillenburger.

"Connection, purpose and knowing what you want to stand for in life can guide you to stay true to what is important to you. - To help you go above and beyond, even in unprecedented times such as these."

It’s a matter of fact in Behavioural Science that “behaviour goes, where reinforcement flows” (Aubrey, 2012). It’s also true that there is no more powerful reinforcement than natural reinforcement; when people do what they do, because this is intrinsically linked to their values.

Health and social care professionals value being compassionate, providing care that is person-centred, and that actually makes a difference. They value ‘empowering people to lead a lifestyle they are proud of’. Green Light’s long standing focus on recruiting employees for their values, means across our homes and teams we have dedicated people doing incredible things for the people we are supporting together. Team members doing all kinds of things for the people we support, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and managers who know how important it is to support, acknowledge and recognise these contributions; small steps towards what matters. We should take care to notice, and encourage the ideas and initiatives of our colleagues; especially those that are aligned with our values, and of course; the goals of the people we are supporting and caring for.

As people, we are used to celebrating our successes during easier, happier times. We are less used to doing so in difficult times. But, difficulties are part of life too and the successes we earn during harder times hold valuable lessons and give us experience we can build on, and share.

As Aubrey Daniels says a great leader can be measured by the behaviour of their followers. At Green Light, we see people at all levels unafraid to take the lead. To show the way. To start an initiative. To be creative in ways that add value to the lives of the people we support. Which strengthens teams and brings people together. We see great leaders who aren’t afraid of validating feelings, showing empathy and compassion, because this is what they like to see in others.

As leaders we promote the health, safety and well being of our colleagues, check in on their welfare; asking “how are you feeling today?”, ”are you in touch with friends and family?” and “what support do you have outside of your team?” This all helps to build and maintain connections, but we should not neglect our own needs. Check in on your own health, safety and well being too!
(there’s some links for doing so below)

Historically, there’s been a tendency to try and “distract” people in difficult situations. We might suggest “let it go”, “don’t worry”, “it’s not a big deal” in an attempt to offer reassurance, but often with counterproductive results. Sometimes we may even reinforce these negative thoughts and feelings. We should remember; it’s o.k to feel this way! - It’s actually human to feel stressed and worried about situations. Acceptance is possible, and healthy.

During life’s difficult times, it helps to remind ourselves why we do what we do. This strange time may well be just the time to build lasting, purposeful connections while doing something we all care about. Purpose and connection matter in health and social care, all the time; but perhaps more so during these times, than in any other.

Ioanna Konstantinidou
Board Certified Behaviour Analyst

PS - Here are some useful acceptance resources I would recommend