Sarah’s fantastic journey from hospital through to full independent living in her own flat in St Albans.
This is Sarah's Story
Sarah, one of the individuals Precious Homes supported to move from a secure unit and into the community just under three years ago, received her last ever support session at the end of November 2016.
Here we share her fantastic journey from hospital through to full independent living in her own flat in St Albans.
Sarah’s transition into her own flat took three years, after many years of relapses and long-stays in secure settings – An incredible achievement for Sarah!
Sarah has Borderline Personality Disorder and had real difficulties managing her emotions. When she first came to Precious Homes’ Oster House, Supported Living Plus Service, she was very withdrawn, did not like being around too many people and was very dependent. In response, a small team including a key worker, was built around her – with a focus on supporting Sarah to self-manage her emotions and build trust.
Sarah was initially supported with 15 hours of 1:1 support a day and a share of night support. She presented significant anxiety and risk to herself and other’s safety. Through intensive interaction and consistent support, she developed confidence, self-coping and independent living skills enabling her to move into her own flat in the community.
After 18 months this was reduced to just 7 hours of outreach support a week and in November 2016 she received her last support session from Precious Homes. Sarah is now living with full independence with no formal support. As a result, her care package costs significantly reduced and have now ceased entirely.
Self-Management of Behaviours:
Sarah is very independent and has good daily living skills, so the real focus for the team was on supporting her to manage her emotions and develop coping mechanisms, including learning how to be patient and understanding how her actions were perceived by others.
This took Sarah on a real learning journey, never previously having this type of support, and building real trust with her team. In response, she learnt how to self-manage and cope with her emotions, develop relationships with others, and how to act in social situations.
Sarah received input from Precious Homes’ internal Multi-Disciplinary Team including personalised training for her Support Team in how to support Sarah to manage her emotions and reduce self-injurious behaviours.
Pathway to independence
As a result of this work, Sarah moved out of Oster House and into her own flat in the community after 18 months – with her team delivering less support in an outreach capacity. Over the past year her paid support has reduced to just two hours a week, and with her last support session completed, she is now fully independent.
The real focus over the past 12 months has been on increasing Sarah’s community networks and friendships so that she does not become isolated. Her team researched the local services but found that many of the groups were specific to a certain disability and there was nothing that stuck out to Sarah.
The team at Oster decided to do something different and with Sarah’s consent they put an advert on their local Street Life website organising a ‘meet up’ group – providing the opportunity for people to make new friends and meet other people in St Albans.
For the first session, Sarah and a Precious Homes’ team member arranged to meet in the town centre and have coffee. The people who came, shared ideas of groups they had gone to, that they enjoyed, chatted about their lives and got to know each other. It was a real success.
Sarah really enjoyed these sessions: meeting new people and making friends locally. She continues going to these groups now that her support has ended, with a new found confidence and the skills to interact, make friends and expand her connections in the local community.
A real success
With each step on her journey, Sarah has grown in independence and steadily needed less support.
Sarah’s story is a demonstration of how individuals who have been denied previous opportunities, can make huge progress with personalised support that really addresses their needs and which is delivered by highly trained team members.
Sarah appeared at the Autism Show in Birmingham and spoke publicly for the first time about her own experiences. This was an outstanding achievement for her personally and she inspired other individuals to not be afraid to do the same.
Sarah’s story in her words...
How did you find your move to Oster House initially?
I actually liked it when I first moved there, and I remember saying to the manager at the time, “I think this place is great, I want to live here forever!” But I didn’t know anybody and I found that very daunting. I’d come from a secure setting to a place where I could come and go as I please, and I wasn’t used to it.
How did staff at Oster House support you to become more independent?
The staff at Oster House were great. They helped build my confidence, and made me realise that I can do things if I put mind to it. They were always there when I needed that extra push to get where I wanted to be.
You became increasingly independent and your support hours continuously decreased. Did you find anything difficult at this point?
Yes and no! I didn’t find it too difficult, because it was done very gradually, but I did struggle a little bit when I moved, which is why my hours were increased for a while.
How did you manage those difficulties?
I had numerous therapies when I was in hospital, and one of the therapies I had was anger management. I learnt to talk about stuff when things were getting on top of me, rather than just flying off the handle. So that’s what I used to do. I used to say “Hey, this is what’s wrong”, and then we’d work through it.
How were you involved in the decision to find you an independent flat to move into?
There was a big meeting with myself, staff and managers at Oster and my social worker. We came to the decision that it was time for me to move on and got in touch with a housing organisation called Golden Lane Housing. With the help of the staff at Oster I was able to find my own flat.
How did volunteering at MENCAP help you?
It’s helped build my confidence and it’s also helped me to understand that people are different and nobody is the same, and it’s ok to be different, it’s good to be different.
Can you tell us your favourite things about living in your own flat?
Freedom. My own space, I can come and go as I please. I can do what I like. And the quiet, I love the quiet.
You have put in a huge amount of work over 3 years to move into your flat and you have achieved a huge amount. What have you found most difficult?
Self-doubt. There were quite a few times when I moved from Oster to my own flat that I thought, ‘I can’t do this’.
What are you most proud of?
The fact that I have achieved something that nobody ever thought I would achieve. They all told me I was a no hoper, when I lived in Swindon, I was a no hoper, a waste of space, and that I’d never make anything of my life. But that’s a load of rubbish because I have.
Have you got any advice to other individuals and professionals in relation to transitions?
When you’re told that you can’t do it, don’t believe them, because you can. There is no such thing as not being able to do something. You have to have faith in yourself and self-belief and you will achieve anything.
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