Read Sophie’s Story – Ty Machen

August 18, 2020

Sophie’s Story

‘Sophie’ a 48-year old lady with learning disabilities and complex needs, including behaviours that challenge, moved to Ty Machen in March 2015, following a placement breakdown.

Ty Machen is a residential service, situated in the small village of Machen, near Newport. The service supports up to six individuals with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour and complex health needs.

The setting focuses on reducing environmental triggers that can raise anxiety while combining Positive Behaviour Support and Person-Centred Active Support to help minimise behaviours and support individuals to achieve their person-centred goals.

Due to her complex needs, Sophie had never been able to be supported within a service for very long, and had experienced multiple placement breakdowns throughout her life. However, not only did Sophie live at Ty Machen for over four years, but on 23rd June of this year, she successfully moved on into a Supported Living environment – an incredible achievement and something no one had ever previously thought would be possible for her.

When asked what is was about Ty Machen that made the difference for Sophie, Service Manager, Lynda Wenner said she believed it was the continuity of care and their approach.

“Over the last six years the Service has only had three members of the team leave and over the same period three of our former colleagues have returned so the team are very well established and know each of the supported individuals extremely well.”

“Both myself and the rest of the management team are very approachable and hands-on because we like to be actively involved in each person’s development. As a team, we all work as one.”

“The Service is also incredibly homely which is something we pride ourselves on. There is an amazing atmosphere here – the Service is always full of laughter and fun which makes it a wonderful place to live and work,” Lynda adds.

Positive Behaviour Support Approach

At Ty Machen, the team are very experienced at supporting individuals with a range of complex needs and are all trained in Positive Behaviour Support.

Gayle Thomas, from Consensus dedicated Positive Behaviour Intervention Team, also works closely with the team to identify, evaluate and adapt Positive Behaviour Support Strategies that support individuals to reduce behaviours and increase their quality of life.

With Sophie the team found that previously, in other settings, when she presented challenging behaviour and on her having consequences put in place as a result. For instance, if she had activities in her planner for that day but had a behaviour beforehand those activities would then be cancelled.

“At Ty Machen, we never try to sanction a behaviour in this way. As soon as the situation was calm and it was safe to carry on, Sophie would be supported to carry on with her day. The team would have a debriefing session amongst ourselves, but we would not impose any consequences on Sophie for the behaviour.”

“Rather than encouraging Sophie to reflect too much on a behaviour (as she tended to reflect quite heavily on things anyway) which had a further detrimental effect, we found that a better approach was to focus on supporting her to let go of it and to move on quickly,” adds Lynda.

The team also used another Positive Behaviour Support approach called ‘talk time’ to support Sophie when she was anxious.

Lynda explains, “If Sophie was having a bad day and wanted to be left alone, the team would initially go and try to talk with her and check she was ok. If she still wanted to be left alone, the team would respect that and say “ok, I will go away now but I’m going to come back and see you.””

“After a period, we would go back and check in on her. This was a way of showing our support to Sophie. It had a positive effect on her because it helped to reassure her that even if she did not want our support initially, that was ok – our support was still there when she did want it.”

Developing daily living skills to live more independently

Living more independently was one of Sophie’s long-term goals so the team supported her to develop and practise daily living skills that would enable her to move into a Supported Living environment in the future. From having a shower and getting dressed, to cleaning her bedroom and making her own breakfast and lunch, the team supported Sophie to develop a structure and routine and gave her lots of encouragement to maintain consistency.

As Sophie grew in confidence and her self-esteem improved, she also began to take more interest in her appearance and the team supported her to go shopping for new outfits and to get her hair and nails done which she now really enjoys.

After four years of support from the team at Ty Machen Sophie was ready to move on to Supported Living. The team supported Sophie with the transition, helping her to research and purchase the things she would need for her new flat and helping her get everything prepared.

While the team were sad to see Sophie move on, they were so proud of how far she has come and what she has been able to achieve.

Sophie is now in her hew flat and getting to know her new support team. The team at Ty Machen are looking forward to catching up with her once she is fully settled in and hearing all her latest news and progress.

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