Clayton’s Dentist Story – Supported Living Kettering
Clayton is a young, vibrant, young man, whose energy is infectious. He is constantly smiling and has an amazing ability to brighten anyone’s day that comes into contact with him. He is friendly and sociable, and gets great satisfaction from interacting with a variety of people.
Clayton has always had strong anxiety issues surrounding visiting the Dentist, and although this did not prevent him from going to the dentist, Clayton needed quite a lot of emotional support during these appointments. He had spoken to support colleagues that took him, about looking at enabling him to become more independent in this area, who all agreed that Clayton would gain a lot of pride and self-satisfaction from an increased level of independence.
Four years ago, colleagues would provide close, full support for Clayton in attending his Dentist appointments. They would need to use a variety of calming techniques, such as holding his hand, constant verbal interaction, and prompts to manage and maintain anxiety levels.
Clayton would require colleagues to sit with him and hold his hand, constantly reassuring him, throughout. Procedures as basic as check-ups would require close monitoring, reminding him and assuring him that he was ok and not alone. The team would use a variety of techniques, such as distraction and deflection, to minimise the stress.
Clayton has had the fortune to be working with a specific support worker over the last four years, to work with and develop his confidence in feeling safe and secure during this process. This consistency has allowed both Clayton and the Phoenix House team to work together and take the time to increasingly transfer the control in Claytons’ life, back into his hands. Empowering him to feel confident to attend these appointments with minimal support presence, but having the security and safety of not being pushed too far or too quickly.
Over the years, Clayton has worked closely with his dedicated support worker and together they managed to reach a stage whereby Clayton was feeling happy and confident enough to attend these appointments without holding hands. This was achieved by taking a step back, maintaining verbal communication throughout and remaining in the Clayton’s eye-line, so that he felt assured someone was there for him at all times.
As he achieved this goal, it was welcomed with high praise, representing a massive step forward and Clayton needed to be aware of what an amazing achievement he had accomplished. Clayton took great pride in encouraging support colleagues to tell other people about what he had achieved and that infectious smile and positivity was at its peak in these moments.
The colleague working closely with Clayton continued to follow this process over the next few years, gradually reducing the level of interaction with Clayton, the more he become comfortable with the situation. Keeping the praise high and keeping the appointment a positive experience for Clayton helped him associate visits to the dentist with happy thoughts, rather than ones of fear and dread.
Due to the close and hard work of both Clayton and the colleague, Clayton has managed to progress even further. Upon supporting him to a dentist visit in May, this year, the colleague continued the process of supporting Clayton into the dentists’ chair, and asked Clayton if he would like him to be there with him or to go wait in the waiting room and wonderfully he requested that colleagues were to wait in the waiting room!
Clayton did not once request his support worker to return to the treatment room. This was particularly impressive as Clayton undertook treatment for a filling, when reflecting he had previously had issues with even a straightforward check-up.
When Clayton emerged from the treatment room he was welcomed with praise and reminded of how proud he should be of himself. Again, he was very keen to tell everyone about his achievements and these positive interactions served to strengthen the positive experience for Clayton.
This is a massive achievement for Clayton and deserves recognition, and he will be looking to develop and further this progression. Once he is wholly comfortable in attending by himself, the team will be looking at expanding the network of people that Clayton will be willing and comfortable to go to the dentist with. They will be looking to do this in a similarly phased technique, with team members going with the current dedicated colleague, with the aim of gradually withdrawing the one he is comfortable with. This will be done at a pace to suit Clayton, with the hope that they will achieve a situation where he is comfortable with anyone, avoiding an over dependency, thus increasing opportunity and choice, whilst maintaining the confidence Clayton has gained in attending these appointments.