Sandra’s supported living progress

Sandra (not her real name) has celebrated her 72nd birthday with a small party – making great progress at AFG’s new supported independent living service within the community in Kirkby.

Team Leader Cally Dee said: “We had an afternoon tea party for Sandra with plenty of cake, presents and visitors. She told us that she’d never had a party before.”

“Sandra wouldn’t normally accept a crowd of people in her home as she would think they were coming to complete a hold for an injection. Sandra previously only tolerated visits from staff, her social worker, her advocate and AFG staff. We had a tea party and cake and Sandra really enjoyed it.”

Sandra joined AFG’s supported living service in April, since when she has come a long way. Before, she was in and out of hospital settings for about 40 years and this would have been her last hope of living in a community setting. Transition visits took place for a month before Sandra moved into her bungalow to help her feel comfortable with staff. And she chose all her own wallpapers and colours.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Sandra’s behaviours were initially heightened when she moved into the service. She would scream and be verbally aggressive to staff daily. Sandra needed a slow-release, slow-acting form of medication by injection every two weeks which required hold positions to administer. Sandra would know the day before her injection was due and would scream for the whole day before and after the injection. This was very distressing for both Sandra and the team.

Cally Dee added: “But through trust, hard work and support Sandra has now settled. The psychiatric nurse decided to move her injection to every three weeks then to every four. More recently, the psychiatric nurse felt that Sandra was so settled that they decided not to give her the injection, instead increasing her oral medication.”

This was a massive step in Sandra’s health and mental wellbeing journey. The injection has now been suspended, with her mental state being reviewed weekly. With intervention from Sandra’ psychiatric nurse and psychiatrist, they completed a medication review. And, with support from the team, Sandra began to settle into her new home environment.

“Sandra previously refused interventions from nurses or doctors as she believed she was well. Consequently, it was difficult to support Sandra to part take in any medical interventions. The team has worked hard – communicating effectively with nurses and doctors – to find the best way to support Sandra through a home appointment. This was recently successful when, for the first time in a very long time, Sandra accepted a visit from a nurse to complete blood pressure and other minor checks. This was a major step for Sandra in accepting visits/treatment from a medical professional.”

Another success has been that previously Sandra would rub her scalp daily when she was anxious. This caused a bald patch and very thin hair. Sandra no longer rubs her head and her hair has begun growing back.

At a previous psychiatric unit, Sandra only left the building once in 14 months. But since Sandra has moved to her new accommodation, the staff have built trust up with her and now recognise what makes her anxious. Sandra now goes out weekly to visit the park and for walks. The next steps are for Sandra to go to the shops and to start doing her weekly shopping.

“Sandra’s social worker and advocate could not believe how well Sandra has adapted to her supported living home and could not thank us enough all for the hard work and support we have delivered to Sandra. Sandra’s nephew could not believe the things she was doing and how successful the move has been. He is planning to visit Sandra at the end of August.”

“We’ve received some lovely compliments from Sandra’s advocate and social worker on how well Sandra is looking and how well she has settled in. She is having so much more interaction. Sandra has come a long way in such a short time especially in terms of reducing her medication.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team. Everyone has gone above and beyond to ensure Sandra is happy and supported in the best possible way.”

Team Leader Michelle Dooley said: “What a lovely afternoon we had celebrating Sandra’s birthday. Well done to the team and to Cally for all your hard work in setting up the accommodation. How well Sandra looks and how far she has come.”

The service Sandra is in provides support to a group of people who have limited experiences of community support services, having come from family homes or long stay residential placements. All the people supported receive an occupational therapy assessment, with each bungalow adapted to suit their needs.