Michelle has bipolar disorder, autism and a learning disability. Before we started supporting her, she was living in a residential unit for people with mental ill health. Here, she regularly attacked staff and damaged property, and often had to be physically restrained.
Our Specialist Support division was set up to provide high-quality bespoke support to people, like Michelle, who have complex needs.
Now supported by Affinity Trust, Michelle has her own flat in Cheshire. We’ve recruited staff who meet her needs – such as positive people who can make her laugh. They’ve completed our specialist training, such as in Positive Behaviour Support.
Support staff can also turn to our clinical team for expert guidance. So, when talking to Michelle, our staff use short, clear sentences, and give her time to process these. They also use pictorial tools. For instance, a board showing staff photos means Michelle doesn’t have to keep asking who will be on shift, which can make her anxious.
Michelle likes to phone her mother every week. But she can get worried if Mum doesn’t answer, so staff will call first to check she is in.
When on the phone, Michelle used to struggle with what to say and would then turn abusive. So staff gave her a list of things to talk about, which has led to much more positive conversations.
Since we started supporting Michelle, she has settled into her community and developed an active social life. She enjoys tea and cake with her neighbours, and has also built a good rapport with staff at her local Co-op, who bought her chocolates for her birthday.
Michelle has full days with a range of structured activities such as bowling, dancing, and attending a local church group. She also enjoys visiting local cafes and nail bars.
When pandemic restrictions were in place, staff had to find creative alternatives to these activities. So, during this time Michelle enjoyed home discos, movie afternoons in her sensory room, and Zumba classes on YouTube. We also supported her to develop new interests, like gardening.