Joanne’s Move On Success Story

I first met Joanne in 2001 when I became the Team Leader at her home. My first impression of her was that she was too able to be living in a 24hr supported living scheme. She was more able than her housemates and exposed to challenging behaviour, which at times put her at risk. It was the feeling of her whole care team that her development was hindered by the needs of her housemates and her needs could not be fully met in the environment she was living in.

After further assessment and relationship building, I discovered that Joanne had developed significantly since moving into the house; her needs had now changed and she did not require 24hr support. I asked her was she happy living where she did? She was very scared by my question and due to past negative experiences of ‘moving’, together with the emotional impact this had had on her and her relationship with her family, the thought was very ‘scary’ for her. She asked me to promise I would never suggest she move. South Road was the home she had felt the most valued and included in and she never wanted to move. I assured her no one would ever force her out, she had a tenancy in her own right and it was her home.

Over the years lots of development strategies were put into place and additional opportunities which she accepted, these improved her self-confidence, empowerment and most importantly for Joanne her emotional development. Risk policies were put in place to leave her unsupported in her home. These started at 1 hour and were gradually increased to 5 hours, in the first instance by me and then later at Joanne’s request. She was constantly seeking the privacy and freedom she needed. She asked daily ‘can I have time on my own’. Due to the needs of her housemates this was limited and her development hindered. It was pointed out to Joanne that her skills were far higher when she was in alone, she was nervous when her housemates were in and had to work around their needs, if staff were in this made her over dependant on them and again hindered her development.

In 2004 Joanne began to show an interest in moving. Her social worker was contacted and the B.I.T (Behaviour Intervention Team) team, to whom Joanne was already known, to assist her with transition issues and to help assess her mental health during the process. Over a period of time Joanne was shown some schemes and met some potential housemates. She declined what was on offer and due to her mental health and dependency issues appeared to find the thought of moving too much; she became depressed each time she declined. Joanne has a history of depression and to push her would have been detrimental to her health, things needed to go at Joanne’s pace, this was agreed by her social worker, B.I.T team and her care team. Each time she became depressed she would need time to heal before the idea of moving home could be revisited.

In 2008 it was suggested to Joanne that she might find things easier if she were to live on her own, this might take away the strain of finding a suitable housemate, leaving her space to focus on her own needs. Joanne agreed but wanted to leave things until September of that year as she was emotionally drained. The process was slow but Joanne’s needs and requests had to be honoured.

In October 2008 Joanne was shown a self-contained flat by her social worker and was delighted with it. The speed of the process then took us all by surprise, Joanne never looked back. Joanne’s family had some valid concerns and a multi-disciplinary meeting took place including Joanne’s family, social work team, B.I.T team, Creative Support Service Manager and myself (Joanne declined to attend as she felt it would be too emotional for her). There were concerns raised by Joanne’s family regarding her safety, support for activities and boredom. They also questioned Joanne’s capacity to make an informed choice regarding such a big decision. The professionals in the meeting all agreed that Joanne had the capacity; Joanne’s social worker said he would seek further professional assessment and feed back to the family. Joanne contributes to quality groups within the service and is well known to people; her social worker sought the advice of the training manager, speech therapist, her consultant psychiatrist and a psychologist who knew Joanne from past and present, all assessed Joanne as having Capacity to make informed decisions.

A meeting took place with her new care provider, social worker, BIT, Creative Support Service Manager and me to assess Joanne’s support needs and to ensure an adequate number of hours were allocated to her. Joanne’s family were informed of the supports put in place to alleviate their concerns.

Joanne moved home on the 2nd of December 2008. Prior to her move a ‘getting to know you’ session was arranged with her new care providers and Joanne’s needs in each area of her life was discussed, her new care team had the opportunity to ask any questions they may have (Joanne declined to be present knowing that sensitive issues needed to be discussed). To enable Joanne to have some transition work and to support her emotional dependency needs, our Creative Support Service Manager reached an agreement with the commissioner for joint funding for one month. Members of her ‘old’ team, chosen by Joanne, worked alongside Joanne’s ‘new’ team. I had discussions with Joanne’s new Service Manager about Joanne’s coping mechanisms; she appeared to be using her ‘old’ team to support her emotional issues (this is 70% of Joanne’s support needs) and her ‘new’ team for practical things. Together we came up with strategies to assist Joanne’s transition and dependency issues. The B.I.T team have assured Joanne they will be involved with her support for as long as she needs.

It is a joy to see Joanne now; she is still in regular contact with her old housemates and support team, which is of extreme importance to her. Joanne has a skip in her step, she is very happy with her new life, full of positive stories, talks of how much she has changed and she is certainly more relaxed. She has formed new friendships with people living within the same support service and has had sleep-overs with one of them. She jokes with me about her comments and fears from the past about ‘moving on’. Joanne’s family are also very happy with Joanne’s new life and I get a sense from talking to Joanne that some bridges are being rebuilt.

Joanne herself says:

Why was I so scared about moving? I love it. My staff come to help me with the things I need support with and then go away and leave me in MY home. I love not having sleep in staff. I can do whatever I want and put things where I want without having to worry about upsetting someone else. I am so happy I could cry.

Joanne in her new home in Morecambe