Identifying strategies to improve a client’s way of life
ONCALL received an urgent request for emergency accommodation and support for participant Wesley, who had found himself with limited options in the peak of COVID.
In late July 2020, ONCALL was approached by a support coordinator looking for emergency accommodation and support for a participant, Wesley*.
Wesley presented with Autism Spectrum Disorder and displayed Schizophrenic tendencies and behaviours in the form of hallucinations, although he had not been formally diagnosed.
Wesley displayed aggressive and anti-social behaviours that resulted in harm to himself, others and property. He was residing in a group home but had moved to a short-term temporary residential house with 1:1 supports to ensure everyone’s safety. Unfortunately, Wesley could not stay there and had limited exit pathways.
All of this was happening during the peak of COVID-19 in 2020. Wesley was unable to return to the group home nor was he able to reside with his informal supports due to his presentation and support needs.
Wesley’s journey with ONCALL
ONCALL located a suitable property and worked with the support coordinator and Wesley’s family to develop a transition plan. ONCALL developed a roster of care and submitted this to the NDIS whilst arranging for the house to be furnished and ensuring Wesley’s family was informed of the process every step of the way.
ONCALL staff met with Wesley’s staff from his group home and visited him in his short-term accommodation option to observe and learn more about his routine, likes, dislikes and ways of communicating.
Wesley had not been able to access the community previously due to his past behaviours and his “eagerness” to greet members of the community which was not always taken well. As a result, staff were previously doing the house shopping in their own time as they were not able to take Wesley.
Identifying strategies to improve Wesley’s way of life
Long-time ONCALL support worker James** took it upon himself to discover the triggers that led to behaviours not allowing Wesley to access the community successfully. James spent time with Wesley and soon realised that he did not like to be bored or not have a task to work towards.
James took this newfound knowledge and implemented strategies to assist Wesley. He worked with other staff to ensure that Wesley always had company and something to do, like just having him sit with staff while they work, sitting with him while he ate lunch or just being near him while he watched TV.
These simple strategies were successful in keeping Wesley occupied.
An additional strategy that James and house staff used was slowly teaching Wesley acceptable behaviour in the community and mirrored this in his home.
Wesley now had a better understanding of expected behaviours. His behaviours began to subside. With this, James wanted to maintain the rapport and trust he had built with Wesley.
James made a conscious effort never to break his trust. If James offered to take Wesley for a coffee as a reward for working on the garden, he would make certain that this occurred.
Because of this, Wesley felt listened to and trusted all of the house staff.
Utilising this trust, staff observed that Wesley did not like to shower. Through observation and rapport building, staff identified that Wesley did not like water on his face.
Staff changed the showerhead to a handheld one so that Wesley could control the water from the shower. What a win! Wesley now loves showering.
Accessing the community with Wesley
Support staff now believed Wesley was ready for the next step – to go out into the community with staff support.
James began taking Wesley for short drives for a change of scenery. Wesley had a love of cows, so when James offered to take him to his preferred destination, Wesley jumped at the idea of heading out to farmland. He was very happy and enjoyed these drives immensely.
The next destination was the supermarket. James wanted to take the opportunity to provide Wesley with choice and control over picking food that he liked.
James had to overcome one major obstacle first; Wesley’s ‘eagerness’ to greet members of the public. James demonstrated the correct way to speak in a public setting, so as to not disturb members of the public. He explained that when in public, it is best to speak slowly and calmly. Wesley picked up on this and began to imitate this way of speaking and this tactic helped improve his behaviour in a public setting.
James found that keeping Wesley occupied was the best way to have him not being disruptive, so he actively engaged Wesley in the shopping, as he pushed the trolley and picked the fruit he liked to eat. When he arrived at the produce section, Wesley realised that there was a large selection of fruit to pick from outside of the regular selection of grapes and apples he had been eating before.
This freedom and choice to pick what he wanted was a strong and empowering activity for Wesley.
After four to five months of working with Wesley, his progression was incredible. All signs of his behaviours had disappeared. James and his support staff tirelessly worked together to increase Wesley’s independence and confidence. All of these aspects combined had a considerable impact on his quality of life.
It’s so good to see that Wesley continues to gain his independence and is able to participate in daily living activities in the community.
The staff at the house led by James deserve huge accolades for the work that they have done with Wesley. This has been confirmed and witnessed by a behaviour support practitioner and OT who have worked with Wesley for some time.
In September 2020, Wesley moved into his new home with the same staff support team. Wesley’s mother was happy to see her son settled into longer-term accommodation with a staffing team who worked with Wesley to improve his independence and work towards his personal goals.
Feedback from Wesley’s mum:
“A big thank you for ONCALL and yourself for taking Wesley onboard. The service you provide is AAAAAAplus.”
* * The Participant’s and support worker’s names have been changed to protect their privacy