Day 10: Hand in Hands with AL #107days

One of the aims of #107days was to raise awareness about #JusticeforLB and all young dudes and dudettes, about the reality that they face and some of the alternatives that should ideally be available. To some extent what happened to LB was due to the lack of appropriate provision available to him and his family as he approached adulthood. A number of people have got in touch to adopt a day for #107days to share some of the work they are doing to improve things. Day 10 was adopted by Michelle Dudderidge, this is what she had to say about why she got involved:

You can see from the images of LB he was a good-looking, happy young dude. He was tragically failed by the people who should have fully supported him and kept him safe from harm. #JusticeforLB is important to me as LB’s death needs to be acknowledged and those responsible need to be punished to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else!

This is Michelle’s story:

In 2011, following Winterbourne View, I established a supported living service, in Hertfordshire, Hand in Hands, to support vulnerable adults with Learning Disabilities and behaviours that challenge, to live independently in their own homes.

I always wanted the organisation to stay small, to enable us to make a difference to the lives of a few individuals and not compromise the quality of the support offered and ensure I remained in control. We now have three services in North Hertfordshire, each can be home to four individuals. As we have only recently opened the second and third services we currently have six vacancies to fill across both.

My aim was, and still is, to ensure those accessing our services have the quality of life that we ourselves would wish for, in a society free from discrimination.

…and this is AL’s story, Hand in Hands first individual:

AL Before

Our journey with AL began in November 2011, 4 days after his 18th birthday. He was living at home with parents who had seen a change in behaviours since he had left Residential School and were finding him increasingly difficult to manage.

In December 2011 AL was admitted, informally, to an Assessment and Treatment unit in Buckinghamshire. AL was in the ATU for 97 days, during which time we undertook a transition period to prepare him to be moved into supported living in March 2012.

Although AL’s Psychiatric Consultant was, and still is, very supportive of what we wanted to achieve for AL, the care staff (many of whom were agency workers), were not as optimistic. The staff told us as AL is non-verbal, “he will never be able to communicate effectively”. AL now uses picture cards and basic Makaton to ensure his needs and wishes are known.

The staff told us AL would not be able to live safely in the community, as he “required far too much PRN medication to manage his unpredictable behaviours“. AL has not had any PRN medication since July 2012. He continues to be managed on a 2:1 staffing ratio, as has been the case since day one, and he is also fully supported through a robust Behaviour Management Plan.

The staff told us he must live alone as he was “far too dangerous to live with others“. AL is now living quite happily with 3 others, and this has been the case since August 2012. They all understand each other’s personal space and are respectful of AL who ‘moved in first’.

The staff told us he would never “be able to go into the community unless he was in a car“. AL will go for walks with staff (on his terms). He is always more than happy to take staff by the hand and lead them to the ice-cream van where he will wait his turn before touching the picture of what he would like.

All of these things are huge achievements for AL in the development of his social and daily living skills and there is no way he would have progressed if he was still in the ATU. AL will always be unpredictable due to his diagnosis, however, I must say how proud I am of the staff team at Hand in Hands who continue to support him to further develop everyday.

AL After

The two photos in this post are before and after pictures of AL.

Look at the difference in his eyes, the unkempt, lost and scared man has gone and he is now a happy young dude who is being supported fully to make the most of his life as an equal in society.

4 thoughts on “Day 10: Hand in Hands with AL #107days

  1. It is clear to see the change in the two photographs, lets get all support services to be like yours! It’s not bloody rocket science! Respect, understanding , care and support!!! thats all thats needed

  2. Hi, I am very interested to read what is being said on this web site. I am a support worker, I support adults with learning disabilities. I came to this work five years ago after being a self employed community artist. I have been so impressed with the support workers who work directly with individuals. The genuine care and considerationI, on a daily, hourly basis impresses me hugely. Where I am less impressed and continually frustrated is in the levels of management above us, from our staff managers, social workers, G.P. and physiologists. Many of these professions seem to only have time to push paper. When it comes to taking time to work with the people who know the individual they simple say they haven’t got time. Luckily when and where staff on the ground, delivering day to day care, are interested, we can do a lot to support someone to make important choices and live a good life. For our hard work we get paid slightly above min wage, work holidays, evenings and weekends, (so at the detriment to our own personal life and families) get bullied by our managers to pick up shifts to cover sickness and holidays. We love our work but our working conditions are industry wide rubbish. Our employers, care providing charities do not recognise workers unions so we can not even get organised easily and strike like teachers, transport workers or other health care professionals. People ask me about my work. I say it would be a great job if I was treated well and paid a living wage.
    We are given the responsibility to report when we see things going wrong and when we do we are usually not listened to. When things go wrong we are blamed. Not a nice position to be in.
    I have seen many intelligent, talented workers leave this job because of the things I have spoken about here. Unfortunately with recent drastic pay cuts and reduced quality in training offered by care agencies the quality of staff has gone down. Which makes everyone feel demotivated and frustrated.
    I wish the media would pick up this issue and show the story of the support worker. I know the fact that society doesn’t value people with disabilities means that society doesn’t value those who support them. It seems like we try to pick up where society is failing and then the agency’s we work for treat us like rubbish. Good will gets burn out, especially when your not making enough money to qualify for a mortgage.
    This has to be considered in the equation.

    • Hi Stacey, thanks so much for adding your thoughts. Today (Day 17) is another day with a brilliant example of the difference that good support workers can make to someone’s life. Sadly I suspect you’re right about how society values people with disabilities, and those who support them. I wonder if you’d like to get more involved with #107days, we still have one or two days left for people to adopt – perhaps you could share your experience and share what you think good/acceptable should look like? I think there will be at least one blog post from someone who has worked in an Assessment and Treatment Unit doing the same, and we’re really keen to bring all voices to this conversation. Drop us an email if you’re interested. Thanks again, G

  3. Pingback: #Day 25; taking stock | #107days

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