Mike’s Story – comprehensive support to achieve independence

May 16, 2012

Mike is a gentleman with learning disabilities, autism, and also presents with behaviors that challenge and associated mental health problems. Mike has spent the significant period of his life within restrictive institutional settings, and has since moved from various residential environments to another due to placement breakdown as a result of his challenging behavior.

Mike is known to a number of assessment and treatment units in Norfolk and Essex and has spent many years within these restrictive hospital environments prior to moving to Deansbrook Farm in September 2010.

Mike has always aspired to live as independently as possible, but when he first came to Deansbrook Farm he faced several challenges that he needed support with to overcome.  Mike’s relationship with his family had broken down over a number of years and a lack of structure and consistency in his life led him to develop a number of obsessive behaviours.  He had become fixated on coffee and cigarettes and would demand them at all hours.  He had also developed an obsession with just a few items of clothing, which could lead to stress, anxiety and confrontational behaviour when they were not available.  When demands were not met Mike could exhibit very challenging behaviour or become depressed and this could also impact on the lives of the other people being supported.

The staff team at Deansbrook Farm discussed the issues around his behaviour with Mike and worked closely with a behavioural specialist to overcome communication barriers associated with his level of understanding and ability to concentrate.

A structured plan was gradually put in place to help him manage obsessions and establish agreed boundaries.  Support staff worked with Mike to create a rota, limiting the time and frequency of access to coffee and other hot drinks; access to the kitchen was also restricted to facilitate this.  A designated smoking area was set out in Mike’s garden and access to his wardrobe was supervised to help reduce anxiety around clothing.

In order to help Mike broaden his horizon of interests a range of positive activities were also established. Outdoor activities with friends and support staff have become a much more regular part of Mike’s life and he now regularly accesses the community with shopping trips, bowling, country walks and visits to the zoo.  In 2011 Mike reached a significant milestone, enjoying a holiday away from home with staff and friends.

Mike continues to make significant progress managing his obsessive behaviours and his quality of life is now much-improved.  With the support of his care team and friends, Mike is looking forward to expanding his horizons in the future.

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