Mike’s Story – Deansbrook
Mike is a gentleman with learning disabilities, autism, and also presents with behaviours that challenge and associated mental health problems. Mike has spent a significant period of his life living in restrictive institutional settings, followed by moves from various residential environments to another due to placement breakdowns.
Mike is known to a number of assessment and treatment units in Norfolk and Essex and has spent many years within various restrictive hospital environments prior to moving to Deansbrook in September 2010.
Mike has always aspired to live as independently as possible, but when he first arrived at Deansbrook he faced several challenges that with support he was keen 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, demanding 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 very low and this could also impact on the lives of the other people being supported within Deansbrook.
The support team at Deansbrook discussed the issues with Mike, surrounding his behaviour and worked closely with Consensus’ 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. The support team worked closely 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 supported 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 the team 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 his support team and friends.
The moment the biggest focus currently for ‘Mike’ is the re-establishment of some family contact.
Mike has always talked a lot about his family but for various reasons the contact had always been very sporadic. Hiss whole family was broken up in the 1980’s following the death of his mother. He had a few photos and would mention his uncles and grandparents but the support team weren’t really able to engage with him a great deal on this as they didn’t know enough at the time.
Knowing that the maintenance of family relationships is hugely important the team have been helping Mike write letters to his brothers and uncles for a while. His brother had been researching family genealogy and was able to pass on lots of photos of all his extended family. The team have taken this with some of the information they already had to help Mike look into his family a bit more Through this they have been able to make a family tree and stick it up on Mike’s wall decorating with pictures and photos.
Mike’s uncle has since called the home and spoken to his keyworker following a letter he received from Mike. This uncle has now sent Mike loads more pictures and provided lots of great information about Mike’s family going back several generations so the family tree is getting pretty huge now!
Together Mike and the support team have managed to trace some of Mike’s family origins as far afield as Calcutta and Nepal as well as discovering a great uncle who fought and died in WWI.
Mike is fascinated by history and geography so all of this information has been great to find and hugely beneficial to Mike’s wellbeing. He will now proudly discuss his family with support workers and visitors and shows them his pictures, whilst detailing who he is talking about. Having learnt and gained so much extra information on Mike’s family tree it has become a very enjoyable two-way conversation.
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 even further in the future.