Supporting Michael’s long distance relationship, Skype brings smiles across the miles

July 3, 2018

Michael lives at The Brambles, in Wellingborough, his sister Gilly lives in Tasmania, Australia. Consequently, he does not get to see her very often in person.

Relationships are hugely important in life. People with learning disabilities often face more barriers in forming and sustaining relationships which can leave them feeling lonely with few friends.

Colleagues across Consensus are committed to empowering and supporting individuals to develop and maintain communications with those that hold special importance to them.

With four years having passed since Michael last met with his sister in person his keyworkers, Kate and Anna discussed how they might support Michael to keep his sister Gilly more involved and informed about his life. Having talked with Michael they then, with his permission, contacted Gilly to share an idea they had around the use of the Skype messaging service to enable Michael to share his thoughts and activities each week.

Gilly was all for the idea and agreed that Kate and Anna would also send a weekly message updating the family on Michaels life and his involvement in activities, including some photos of him. Gilly then shares these with her family, creating a wider sense of involvement.

Every Sunday now for about an hour, Michael and Gilly have regular time where they ‘Skype’ each other. Michael has his tablet set up for use in his bedroom, so they have privacy, whilst they chat in their “Virtual Visit.”

Gilly is delighted with the opportunity to catch up so easily on a regular basis and said:

“We are really enjoying hearing about what Michael does from day to day on a weekly basis. This is the best idea ever and thanks to Kate and Anna we feel that we are there with Michael on a daily basis now.”

The use of Skype has allowed Michael and his sister to further their contact and relationship, enabling Gilly to have more of an input, contributing positively to Michaels life at The Brambles. Michael has benefitted from an improved well-being. Michaels memory has begun to deteriorate a little but through this regular communication Michael is able to speak with and remember family members he had started to forget, such as his niece and brother in law. He looks forward to the chats and counts down the days until he gets to speak with Gilly.

Utilising this technology has allowed Michael and his sister to have contact on a level that would not have otherwise been possible due to the distance and both are extremely pleased that the distance is now a barrier of the past.

Consensus takes a person-centred approach to supporting individuals and we use person centred planning to enable them to work towards the goals they wish to achieve. This means that we tailor what we do and how we do it to suit each person’s specific, and often, complex needs.

They’re individual in their requirements, so the solutions and plans we put in place – with their full input – to help them achieve their goals must be individual too.

We spend time listening to, and understanding, each individual. We learn about what’s important to them, what their needs and wants are, and how they would like to live their life. Then we work closely with them and their family, as well as other support professionals to create a person-centred plan. This sets out what their goals are and how we will work together to help them achieve them.

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