Coming to live in a residential home from a family home has been a huge change for Travis. Now 21, he moved to one of our homes in Shropshire 18 months ago. It took him at least a year to adjust to his new environment and altered routines while getting to know new people. Travis has a moderate to severe learning disability and can experience significant social anxieties, which made the move to his new home quite difficult for him.
Initially, Travis spent four nights at his new home followed by four nights with his family. The first time his support workers informed him that he was going home (to stay with his family) Travis emptied the entire contents of his room onto the landing in readiness!
Travis’ family explained that when he is overexcited it also displays as anxiety. The team quickly learned that communicating information too much in advance exacerbates Travis’ anxiety, too. By working from a shared perspective, the team has worked with Travis and his family to find the best ways of supporting him to anticipate and cope with transitions and other changes in his life. Over time, and with lots of dialogue with Travis, the packing is now down to one suitcase for a 1-2 night stay with family each week.
Private and communal spaces
Learning the concept of private spaces in his new home was also different for Travis. Used to being able to enter every room, he would inadvertently go into others’ bedrooms. The team have supported Travis to understand which rooms are private to him, and which are private to others he lives with.
Home Manager, Jacci Woodhouse, says: “We are delighted and proud that Travis has further enhanced his daily living skills such as cleaning his bathroom, keeping his house tidy and preparing meals.
“He has benefited from a high level of consistent emotional support to feel personally safe with the range of activities he is engaged in. We find he likes to know his input is of value and appreciated.”
Travis has access to support from two team members when going out and about in the community. Mindful of Travis’s social anxieties, he is offered a clear choice of options of things to do, using communication which is accessible and meaningful to him. He enjoys swimming once a week and, for the last year, he has been volunteering at a local museum.
Every other week he enjoys helping them by cleaning the bannisters and walls. “Cleaning is very much within Travis’ comfort zone,” explains Jacci, adding, “He also likes people and recently asked after the lady who runs the volunteer programme at the museum.”
Walking is another interest and Travis and his housemates regularly visit National Trust properties with their support team. “You can have such a good time when supporting Travis,” smiles Jacci. “He has a great sense of humour and you can make him laugh by acting out.”
She adds: “The more you put into a relationship with the people you support, the more you get out of it. If you can find a shared interest with the person they will automatically communicate with you better.”
Jacci finds Travis gravitates towards her quite often and she was recently delighted she encouraged him join a karaoke night. “We turned the music volume down and he started initially in a quiet room beside the room with the karaoke.
“When he started to relax, he moved to the main room. He went from not wanting to be in the room at all to standing by the microphone singing ‘Stand by me’.”