While national policy has been moving towards a social model of support for decades, sometimes people get ‘stuck’ in institutional settings. One such person was Marcus, who spent 24½ years in a secure hospital unit in Manchester.
During the Covid pandemic, the Home Manager at Mulberry House was approached by a team from the hospital. They wanted to find a new home for Marcus, who is in his forties, autistic and profoundly Deaf. Another person supported at Mulberry House had moved from the same setting several years before, settled in well and is living very happily there.
Specialist d/Deaf support
The team at Mulberry House specialises in supporting people who are deaf or deafblind. They also have the expertise to support people who may have issues with their mental health, who experience periods of emotional stress or may present with behaviours which challenge.
Gary Stubbs, Home Manager, said: “We visited the hospital and met Marcus over the course of a year to get to know him, his history and his situation. On initial assessment, Marcus presented with a few risks that would need further exploration and management. Deaf people with Aspergers can be very direct and to the point and Marcus had said some things in the past that gave cause for concern. However, he had never acted on his threats.”
Overnight visits – to moving in
Gary and the Achieve together Assessment & Placement Team worked collaboratively with Marcus and his funding authority to agree planned overnight visits. This was to see how he got on, give him a chance to meet and spend time with others who lived there and consider any foreseeable risks. He had initial overnight stays for two nights with additional support provided. Gary said: “The visit was a success and Marcus said he had really enjoyed it. The team kept a journal with him of what he had done so that he could reflect on it.”
Although Marcus’ visit was originally meant to be for two nights, the visit went so well that he simply moved in. The home is a registered residential home, however each person supported has their own self-contained space with bathroom and mini kitchen. Despite being very apprehensive at the huge change, Marcus was supported by the team to transition to his new surroundings and lifestyle really quickly.
Learning life skills
Having been somewhat institutionalised, Marcus had to reskill himself initially. He was also unused to going out as a result of the restrictions of a secure hospital unit. His support team put a plan in place to help him learn life skills. Gradually he grew in confidence and took responsibilities at his own pace.
Three years on and the specialised support, which uses the Wheel of Engagement Person Centred Framework, means that Marcus is happy to shop and cook for himself and do his own cleaning with support. On arrival, he had an extensive list of things he didn’t like, but this this has gradually reduced as he gains more life experience and exposure to the world.
Marcus has been able to manage his emotions well. With the specialist support offered by the team he has been able to use positive coping strategies in the main. This has meant that he has been able to successfully live in the community again.
Out and about
The novelty of freedom and independence hasn’t worn off for Marcus. He continues to enjoy spending time being a part of his local community. His social worker recently commented: “It’s lovely to see him on good form and very exciting to hear that he’s going out. Marcus’ progress really is a reflection of how your staff team have supported him to reduce his need on others. Well done!”
Whilst he prefers his own company a lot of the time, often spending evenings in his flat, he attends seasonal events such as the Christmas carol concert in British Sign Language. He also goes out to local deaf events independently or with team members.
Marcus comments: “I have had my ups and downs, but I’m very happy that I’ve moved to Mulberry House and I think it’s the right place for me.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity