James’s Success Story – Tushmore Lane
James, aged 20, an individual with a mild learning disability and autism, moved to Tushmore Lane, in Crawley, Surrey, in the summer of 2018, as part of a planned transition from a Children’s service into adult provision.
Tushmore Lane is a small residential service that supports younger adults, aged 20-40 with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. The team focus on supporting independence and helping individuals to develop daily living skills, social skills and life skills. Shopping, cleaning their room, planning and cooking meals for themselves and others is all part of life for people living at Tushmore.
James spent most of his childhood in foster care, which had affected his ability to build meaningful relationships with people, this; coupled with a lack of routine and firm boundaries, had resulted in him displaying some challenging behaviours while living at the Children’s service.
When he first moved in to Tushmore Lane, the team were conscious that he was experiencing a lot of change in his life and that this needed to be carefully managed so that it did not trigger any behaviours. The team were supported by a member of Consensus’ Positive Behavioural Intervention Team who guided the team on Positive Behaviour Support approaches and practical strategies to use to support James to reduce any anxiety and behaviours and improve his quality of life.
Previously, when James had a behaviour, people would react by giving him more attention, which then reinforced the behaviour, whereas it was discovered that the best way to support James was to walk away from it, rather than to feed into the behaviour.
This approach supported James to learn that he needed to behave appropriately if he wanted the attention of the support team. It also supported him to be able to self-regulate his behaviour and to communicate his thoughts and feelings to the team.
The other important strategy the team have used to support James in reducing his anxiety is to ensure that he has a busy timetable with lots of structure, consistency and certainty in his day, as well as lots of activities that he enjoys.
Supporting the relationships that are important to James
James’ relationship with his mum is very important to him and a positive aspect of James moving to Tushmore, is that he is now much closer to where his mum lives, which has helped them to further develop their relationship and strong bond.
The team support James to keep in regular contact with his mum and have developed a good relationship with her, keeping her regularly updated on his life and having regular chats with her after her phone calls with James.
Due to the pandemic, the service has had to follow strict guidance on visitors, however, they have supported James and his mum to continue their relationship, with James forming a support bubble with his mum. This has allowed them to continue to meet regularly outside, where they can enjoy a take-away coffee and a catch up which has had a positive impact on his overall wellbeing. It also meant that his mum could come to the garden party that the service held to celebrate James’ birthday, which he really enjoyed.
Supporting James’ goals
One of James’ goals when he came to Tushmore was to study at College and the team successfully supported him to enrol on a ‘Skills for Independence’ course, which focuses on the skills and understanding required to become more independent, including travelling and budgeting with money.
James settled into college life really well, however due to the pandemic, James was no longer able to attend in-person lessons. Determined to support him to keep up with his coursework and maintain the same learning structure and routine, the team converted the dining room into a classroom for James.
The college now sends a monthly pack of work, which the support team go through with him, researching and printing out additional materials from the internet to support his learning. For instance, his maths lesson may be around budgeting and the team will support him with practical exercises where he has to look at what he spends and then split his spending into two categories ‘what I can’t go without’ and ‘things I could give up/live without.’
Supporting James to develop his interests
At Tushmore, the team have also supported James to develop his interests and independence skills. Before James moved to the service, he didn’t enjoy cooking and would only do it once a week on a Friday afternoon because it gave him an opportunity to spend time with the manager.
Since being at Tushmore, James has developed a real love of cooking. The way the team approached this was to give him more choice and control over the activity. They empowered him by asking him to pick a day of the week that he would like to cook for himself and the rest of the house. The team have a recipe folder with pictures and this is divided into three categories; meat, fish and veg. James was asked to choose what he would like to cook as his main, then to choose a side and the vegetables to go with it. He really enjoyed this approach and Saturday became his day to cook for the house, which he chose because he wasn’t in college on that day and so he didn’t have to rush.
Now in the evenings, if it is not anyone else’s turn, the team will check in with James and ask if he wants to help with making dinner and he often says yes and wants to be involved.
James’ social worker has been really pleased with his progress since he moved into Tushmore and is so confident in how well he is doing that she has now handed his care over to a duty team.
When James first moved into the service, he had also been under the care of a Psychologist who had been concerned about the impact of James having a lot of big changes, however, because the team started as they meant to go on by establishing boundaries and a clear routine and structure around his day, she has been very pleased with how well James has coped and can see how confident and calm he now is.
He has a good routine in place which consists of lots of things that he enjoys. He has breakfast, gets dressed and has his medication, followed by helping with cleaning, college work and then in the afternoon, he goes out with the support team and does an activity that he enjoys. He also loves his scooter and likes to go to the park and practice on the ramp.
Prior to the pandemic, James played in a football team every week, which he loved. He continued to play on and off over the summer when the restrictions were relaxed, but play has currently been stopped again. The team have been supporting him to continue to practice his skills and regularly support him to go to the park or the beach to play football.
Once the restrictions lift, James is looking forward to going back to play for the club. Another one of his goals is to go and see Crawley Town Football Club play a match, and in the future, he would also love to play for them.
James also really enjoys drama and film and another one of his future goals is to join a drama production group and participate in acting.
Service Manager, Tina Adamou, says: “We are really proud of James and the progress he has made since he has lived here at Tushmore Lane. We are looking forward to continue to support him to grow in independence and achieve the goals that are important to him.”