Using assistive technology to support Jake
Jake, a 27 years old man with a learning disability and complex needs that includes a physical disability, moved to Redan Street, a supported living service in Ipswich Suffolk in 2013.
When Jake who is non-verbal first arrived, he had an assistive technology device called a Mobi 2 to help him communicate. The device is a speech generating tablet with a computer platform that can be pre-programmed with information that the user can select via picture communication symbols on the screen.
Jake did not have the confidence to use the device and so instead would rely heavily on using hand and facial signs to communicate. This limited who Jake could communicate with as it required people to understand what each of the signs represented.
It also led to some confusion because some hand signs could be interpreted in different ways, for instance a picture in his support plan which showed him touching his forehead meant ‘headache’ but it also meant ‘shy.’
In order to support Jake to enjoy greater independence and to communicate confidently by himself, the team supported him to start using his Mobi 2.
The team supported him to upgrade the system and worked closely with his family who updated it with information personal to him; his likes, dislikes, favourite activities, family, thoughts, feelings, wishes and needs.
At the touch of a button, a whole new way of communicating with the world opened up to Jake.
He can now introduce himself to new people and share his background and share his interests and favourite things – including his love of the Spice Girls and McFly as well as his love of Formula One.
He can now let the team know who he would like to support him on any given day and can explain exactly how he is feeling – if he is hungry and what he would like to eat.
When he goes to the doctors, he can communicate directly with the doctor and explain if he is in pain and where that pain is.
Jake’s family are delighted that through the team’s consistency in encouraging and support Jake to use the device, he has successfully grown in independence and autonomy. They enjoy supporting Jake by updating the device with the information he needs to communicate in his everyday life.
They are also pleased that it has opened up new ways for Jake to keep in touch with them as Jake can now call and have a conversation with them over the phone using his Mobi 2 whenever he wants.
It has also allowed Jake to be actively involved in his family’s most precious moments – Jake recently attended his dad’s wedding and was able to give a speech on stage which everyone absolutely loved, especially his dad!
Being able to confidently express himself in a wide variety of situations has enabled Jake to gain a level of choice and control over his life that was previously unavailable to him. It has also allowed Jake’s personality to shine through.
The team have also supported Jake to learn how to use a powered wheelchair which means he can now manoeuvre himself around his flat. He can go to the kitchen when he wants something to eat or go to the bedroom when he is ready for bed. He can also visit his friends in other flats in the service to watch movies or football.
The team are so impressed with Jake and how much he has achieved since moving to the service and look forward to supporting Jake as he continues to develop greater independence.