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Matthew is a young man with a diagnosis of Autism whom we support four times a week. Sophie, one of our dedicated Support Managers began case managing client Matthew at the beginning of 2018. Initially, he would not allow her access to the property or engage with her, refusing to let his support staff carry out any tasks other than play video games with him and purchase him a number of take-aways which he would live off between his support visits. Furthermore, his property was in such an unclean state that a complaint was raised by the housing team. This complaint led to a deep clean of the property which allowed his support team and Sophie to implement a wave of changes to his support, initially, this began with a cleaner to enter the house on a Monday on a fortnightly basis to help maintain the property. Although at the start he would only allow the cleaner in certain rooms they are now allowed to clean the whole flat which is a big goal considering in early 2018 he would not even allow support staff to clean his home due to his anxieties.

Another change SweetTree implemented over the past year is through the persistence and dedication of his support team. They have now encouraged Matthew to have two support sessions where he has freshly cooked meals, with enough leftovers to be reheated when he does not have support. Although he still has a take-away on the other days of support this development is a tremendous step in the right direction for his health with the hope being that eventually, he will accept freshly cooked meals on every support session.

Furthermore, by building up strong relationships with his support staff Matthew confided in difficulties he was having with his independence – this disclosure has led to him having a recent Occupational Therapist referral where his bathroom will be completely redesigned to help him meet his needs in a dignified manner whilst maintaining his independence. As a private person, it is a testament to the staff to have built such a strong relationship he felt he could confide them.

One of the biggest achievements for Matthew over the past year is he went out in the community with support staff for the first time in years. Over the years Matthew had engaged less in the community with support to the stage that he would not leave the home with staff due to his anxieties and only wanted to play video games with them. In spring 2019 he told staff he wished to attend the cinema; with staff managing his anxieties around this so he felt comfortable, he was able to achieve this goal. Although he does not want to go to the cinema again (as he said he prefers watching films at home) this has led to him now identifying other places in the community he wishes to visit! His next community visit is planning to be Namco arcade as he says he wants to go bowling and on bumper cars, with his team now working through his anxieties so that he feels happy to go.

As his case manager, after a year of trying, Sophie was finally able to meet Matthew. After months of requests and telephone conversations, she was initially allowed to be in the kitchen whilst he sent messages from the living room to his support worker as he built up his trust. After two kitchen visits, he then allowed Sophie to be in the same room as him and meet face-to-face. He now regularly accepts her in his property to have reviews, along with his social worker whom he previously refused. Although he will not talk to Sophie directly and still communicates through his support staff the fact he will be in the same room, speak to us about his support, knows who we are, and asks us to carry out tasks on his behalf and has even identified what goals he wants to work towards is a big achievement for an individual who historically refused to engage with services.

Over the course of the last 12 months, through the determination of his dedicated and proactive team, Matthew’s package has changed a huge amount for the better; his support now has clear direction and objectives for each session, he now has a clean liveable home which will be adapted to meet his needs, he eats freshly cooked food each week, has accessed the community and hopefully will continue to and now engages with health and social care professionals regarding his support, setting the goals he wants to meet. Although we are still working towards a number of goals by working at his pace, building his trust and using what opportunities we can to move his support in a positive direction the achievements he has made this year have been incredible.

For more information about the LD and Complex Care team, please contact learningdisabilities@sweettree.co.uk 

Note: Matthew is a huge Marvel fan, hence the image chosen for this blog post at his request.

The client’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

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