Liam now smiles

Liam now smiles

Liam, a 43 year old man with a learning disability and an autistic spectrum disorder, entered residential care at the age of 3. Care, however, is misnomer for the treatment that he received at his many residential and hospital placements. By the time that Heritage Care visited his private residential care home to assess him in 2009, his life had been reduced to a miserable, isolated and unhappy existence. His physical condition was poor; he was thin, his skin was rough, dry, chapped and bleeding and his clothes were tatty. He was spending much of his time alone and outdoors and his complete lack of social and communication skills meant that his behaviour was challenging in the extreme. He was uncooperative and aggressive and his behaviour was inappropriate. When he moved to a Heritage Care supported living service in Lincolnshire, his support staff were facing an uphill struggle to help him.

A variety of different strategies were used to turn Liam’s life around and give him independence and a life worth living. A routine was established to give Liam some sense of security and stability, both of which had been sadly lacking in his life. A pictorial diary helped with this. Staff worked hard to create a sense of home for him by finding out what items are important to him and what colours, music and smells he likes. Independence has been fostered by using hand over hand techniques to teach him how to feed himself, make a drink and a sandwich and do basic chores around the house. Staff supported Liam to make trips outside the house so he can now go shopping. He has also learnt to pay his bills. All of this means that he now has a huge measure of independence.

Staff have also worked with Liam to produce a person-centred plan, identifying the goals that he wants to achieve in his life. One of his goals was to go swimming and he has worked with his support staff to achieve this and now has the confidence to go on his own. He can also spend time with others and communicates using basic signs.

Heritage Care has used many strategies and resources to turn Liam’s behaviour around. A structured approach was implemented immediately to ensure that staff had clear guidelines to deal with triggers that could lead to behavioural problems. Staff have been trained in positive behaviour support and have worked with many other health professionals, including community nurses and his psychologist. They have never given up on Liam and their perseverance has been rewarded because Liam now has far more independence so now needs far less support.

Liam has now lived in his own home for five years, a record for him. He is able to take care of his personal appearance and feed himself so has gained weight. He can undertake basic domestic tasks and do his shopping. Isolation is no longer a problem as he even goes swimming and will spend time with others. He also smiles. It first happened a year after Heritage Care began supporting him. It is a fantastic measure of success.