Julia* is 25 years old, has a profound learning disability and autism. She has limited verbal communication and can exhibit behaviour that challenges.
She was referred to Active Prospects in September 2016, as her residential care placement was breaking down, due to staff being reluctant to cope with her often violent behaviour.
Seventeen other providers had been approached and turned down the referral but we were determined to offer support if we felt we could do so effectively. Following assessment of Julia’s needs, it was decided that, with the right environment and staff team in place, we could provide appropriate support.
At that time, Julia used a wheelchair to get around and so needed accessible premises. Julia moved into the ground floor of Young Prospects, our dedicated young person’s short break service in Redhill. Young Prospects offers bright, modern and spacious accommodation and it gave Julia the room she needed to manage her anxieties.
Julie requires 2:1 support at all times, both day and night. Support staff were matched with Julia based on their skills and interests (she loves water fights and pillow fights). They received on the job training by the Community Team for Profound Learning Disabilities including Maybo training around breakaway techniques, in order to keep Julia, and those around her, safe.
Julia’s room was decorated in yellow, her favourite colour. She is close to her mum and we asked mum for photos to put up in her bedroom. She also provided a personalised quilt with family photos on it that helps give her comfort at night.
Staff supported Julia to mark on her calendar when her next visit home was due and to cross off the days to it, which helped reassure her. In between visits, staff emailed mum to maintain contact and ensure that steps to limit her behaviour were re-enforced during her monthly visits home.
Staff utilised ABC techniques to identify triggers for challenging behaviour and calming techniques. If staff see her behaviour is deteriorating, they check if she is hot or cold, if she needs to eat or have a drink, monitor her for constipation and so on, to ensure Julia’s behaviour has no obvious cause.
We know her autism can cause sensory overload, so staff ensure she gets plenty of calm, quiet time and time out of doors. She loves sensory touch such as massage, head stroking and feet tickling.
We worked with an Occupational Therapist to get her fitted for special footwear and now she doesn’t use a wheelchair at all. Julia likes to be out of the house, doing activities or going for walks, so staff have arranged for her to leave Young Prospects each day to spend time at one of our other houses, where she has use of the downstairs and room for her ball pit which she likes to spend time in.
Here there is also a large, enclosed garden that provides a safe space for Julia to explore and to get exercise and fresh air, which benefits her overall wellbeing.
She still has days when she struggles with emotions and can lash out at staff.
Support staff who now know her well recognise the signs and can prevent her behaviour escalating to previous levels. Julia has developed a strong and trusting relationship with her support workers and knows that even if she has a bad day, they will still be there to support her.
Four months on, Julia is now a much more relaxed and happy person. Chris Browne, Assistant Head of Care says, “Julia is fun and playful and a delight to spend time with. It’s been great to see her transformation since she came to us “.
We have secured funding from CCG Transforming Care and can now look at more permanent supported living options that will help her develop further and reduce the support she needs. Staff are preparing Julia to move to the house where she has been spending her day times, so it is familiar to her and offers her the space she needs to thrive.
We hope to reduce her two waking night staff to a mix of waking nights and sleep-in and then to two sleep-in staff over time, which will reduce the costs of her support and afford her more independence. The future is looking much brighter for Julia.
* Name has been changed