Read about Emma’s new lease of life!
Emma, a 33-year-old lady with a learning disability and severe autism, moved to Blakeney House, a residential service in Essex in 2012. Through the dedicated work of her support team in understanding her needs and triggers Emma found a fantastic new lease of life!
Blakeney House is a residential service, situated on a quiet residential street along the Essex seaside coast of Leigh-on-Sea. The service supports individuals with moderate to severe learning disabilities, some individuals may also have physical disabilities. Life at Blakeney is described as caring and positive where opportunity and choice for every individual living there is paramount.
Due to her complex needs, Emma’s attention span would not allow her to do certain things that others may not have as much trouble doing. For example, sitting in a cinema, going to the theatre, eating out or going on holiday was very challenging for Emma and impacting on her quality of life.
She found it very hard to settle into Blakeney House when she first arrived in August 2012 and would often scream when she felt particularly distressed, and on bad days this could last for quite a long period of time. The dedicated support team at first, did not know the reason for her screaming, so spent some time trying to get to understand what was causing her so much distress.
They persevered with Emma, working with her day in and day out to understand what triggered her unsettled periods of screaming and feelings of anxiousness. Amanda Friedberg, the Service Manager, explains, “We worked with her behaviours and then in the end it was a process of elimination. Is Emma screaming because of medical reasons? Is she hurt? Is there something wrong with the environment? And that’s how we really go to the bottom of the issues so that we could help alleviate her distress.”
Within her first few weeks at Blakeney, Amanda also recalls how difficult Emma found it to trust people which led to Emma feeling anxious and upset. The team then knew that Emma needed to gain their trust, “First and foremost every member of the team needed to be extremely patient and understanding, taking time to build a relationship with her, getting to know her and allowing her to get to know us, so that we could all gain her trust.”
At the beginning Emma also received help from Consensus’ Positive Behaviour Intervention Team, who supported the team at Blakeney to introduce strategies which would form part of her person-centred plan to help reduce the behaviours which were causing her stress and to improve her quality of life.
But when asked what it was about Blakeney House that really made the difference for Emma, Amanda said she believed it was the continuity of care and the approach of the support teams who were dedicated to helping Emma achieve her goals and to live a meaningful, fulfilling life at Blakeney.
“The support workers are the ones who’ve really helped Emma flourish and grow as a person. They have really helped turn Emma’s life around. There’s nothing stopping her now!”
Using person-centred planning and taking the time to get to know Emma was key in identifying her needs and preferences. After doing this, the team very quickly realised that she needed one to one support and would split the days up so she would see different faces throughout the day, which is Emma’s Success Story something Emma responded well to. They also learnt that once you gained Emma’s trust, she would then trust you for life.
Learning Emma’s likes and dislikes was also key to successfully supporting her. The team established that she doesn’t like to be rushed and prefers to have a mixture of both male and female staff supporting her.
Although Emma has improved significantly since being supported at Blakeney House, she still has her off days, but now it’s about the team identifying the issues and responding quickly. Amanda says, “Days are few and far between now for when Emma is unsettled. Now her personality shines through every single day, she is a happy, positive and upbeat resident at Blakeney. Whenever I see Emma, she has a grin from ear to ear, it’s lovely,” recalls Amanda.
The team at Blakeney are incredibly passionate about what they do, with a lot of the core team having been at the service for quite some time. Both the Service Manager, Amanda and the Deputy Manager, Joanna, have both worked at Blakeney House for 15 years.
Amanda says, “I love my job it’s a privilege to support the people who live here, and I am committed to ensuring that they have fulfilling lives. It feels like one big family at Blakeney House. I have known some of the guys who live here for 15 years so I have built relationships that enrich my life. Here’s to the next 15!!”
After being unsettled for quite some time, Emma is now more used to her surroundings and much happier at Blakeney House. As a person Emma is described as ‘always on the go’ with lots of energy, she is always busying herself with various tasks and activities. Amanda says, “If you’re supporting Emma then you better have your trainers on for a start, because she is on the go all the time.”
She loves being girly, getting her hair done, getting her nails painted and going shopping with friends. She is also very close with her family, who have been an amazing support for her over the years. Emma loves spending time with them and she even now eats out and has dinner with them, which was something the family struggled to do before.
Going out and about is the norm for Emma, who can now live her life the way she wants to and enjoy it. At the beginning of the year Emma amazingly achieved one of her goals to go on holiday to Center Parcs, with the help of her two support workers, Amy and Veronica, who have both been an incredible support system for Emma.
Overall, Amanda is overjoyed with Emma’s progress over her eight years at Blakeney, “Emma is very much a part of the local community now. She is out and about all the time and loves eating out at the local restaurants or having a coffee in the nearby café. People know her by name now, so it has been great watching her progress.”