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Janice and Mick’s story
We all have dreams and aspirations and people with learning disabilities are no exception. Janice and Mick are a perfect example of a couple who found each other and a future, later on in life. However they faced expensive care home placements and almost certain separation due to the their changing care needs combined with the challenges they faced living in the community.
By jointly adopting a person centred approach, SweetTree Home Care Services and Janice and Mick’s multidisciplinary team worked together to empower the couple to take control of their lives and accept responsibility for their future. By understanding what Janice and Mick wanted out of life and how they wished to live, it was possible to create a highly cost effective care package which not only ensured that they were fulfilled as individuals, but also facilitated them to remain together as a couple. Person-centred planning, combined with the specialist support provided by SweetTree’s Learning Disabilities Team achieved a truly effective and valuable outcome.
Janice is a fun loving, loud and boisterous woman with a mischievous sense of humour. Having spent the majority of her life in Friern Barnet Hospital she had an unsettled history of poor care and exploitation. By chance she met her husband Mick at the tender age of 62 whilst shopping in Archway. Their instant friendship soon blossomed into love and the hope of living a ‘normal’ life as a married couple in the community.
For Janice and Mick these new aspirations brought new challenges. Janice’s very low tolerance for dealing with stresses led to her portraying inappropriate behaviours and she became very noticeably distressed and agitated. Her dual learning disability and mental health diagnosis meant she struggled in the community as she would often go out with poor personal hygiene and shout at members of the public in the streets, causing further prejudice and isolation. Janice’s mental health state was deteriorating so the couple were moved from their flat to sheltered, elderly accommodation in Islington.
Although the sheltered accommodation was far more suitable, Janice continued to decline the personal care and support she needed, with her beloved Mick mimicking her actions which only exacerbated the problems. Her relationship with her home care provider became strained, which meant she increasingly relied on Mick to meet her needs. The couple’s diet consisted of convenience foods and they both had a very poor understanding of a healthy eating lifestyle. Janice had also been prone to regular stomach upsets due to eating out of date products. The couple were at high risk of losing their accommodation due to smoking and dressing inappropriately in communal areas and their flat being kept in poor living conditions. On top of this the couple were being sent home by the day centre they attended at least 3 times a week, again due to poor personal hygiene and inappropriate social skills.
Matters came to a head when Mick fractured his hip and could no longer support his wife with their daily routine. The multi-disciplinary team supporting Janice and Mick were running out of viable solutions and it was looking likely that Mick and Janice would have to be separated and placed in expensive residential accommodation. As a last resort Janice’s Social Worker was sign-posted to SweetTree’s Learning Disabilities Service with a view to procuring specialist person-centred support.
Janice and Mick engaged well with their care package and enjoyed visits from their support worker, feeling confident to express their views and opinions. When she left they interviewed and chose a replacement which again reinforced their sense of empowerment. They both took an active part in their care reviews for the first time in their lives and understood that their actions had a consequence on their ability to live a happy and fulfilled life together. There were improvements in the couple’s personal hygiene and this led to the couple not being sent home from the day centre and security of tenancy within the sheltered unit.
Mick and Janice adopted a positive approach to living a healthy lifestyle, eating more nutritiously and maintaining their home. Janice started to take an active role in the household duties, writing the shopping list and going shopping with the support worker. She was also shown how to use the washing machine with pictorial prompts and embraced her new skill with pride. The life that Mick and Janice had dreamed of when they met that day while shopping was truly becoming a reality.