Charlie is a lively, caring, charismatic, young woman who is admired for her wry sense of humour and adventurous spirit. Charlie also has autism and spent over ten years in institutional settings where she suffered extensive abuse and trauma.
When we were invited to work with Charlie, she was living in a Treatment Unit which she found difficult due to the noise, the shared attention of the staff and witnessing the distress of other patients. It was evident that Charlie had had limited access throughout her adult life to support directed at engaging her in the community.
Using an Individual Service Fund, LivesthroughFriends identified early on a provider able to work with us and Charlie in developing a Good Life Plan and to prepare to support her to live in a house that was found for her in the community. Through her extensive time in institutional settings, Charlie had ‘learned’ dependence. This, plus insight from a clinical assessment from Studio 3 that identified how Charlie’s autism could best be supported through a low-arousal approach, lead to us applying principles of ‘just enough support’ in developing support arrangements for her.
Charlie has been living in her new home for 18 months now. There have been anticipated challenges as she adjusts to living in the community after the traumatic years in institutional settings. The team around her have made progress in supporting a range of proactive indoor activities, helping Charlie establish a garden and develop her life skills. Key was work done to prepare her community ahead of Charlie moving in. Connections were established for her to a local club, church and she got a job at the local community centre. As such, when during the transition Charlie has acted out in response to the stress, neighbours have not complained – they have made contact to ask if they can help in anyway.
LivesthroughFriends continue to provide training to the team of support practitioners, specifically around building the network of relationships around Charlie. The support team are currently using their personal connections to link Charlie to a local stable where she can use her gifts around her care for animals in a purposeful way.
Charlie is currently supported on a 2:1 basis whilst we do our best to make that not feel like supervision or control. The goal within the Good Life Plan devised for Charlie is to get down to 1:1 staffing during the day. It is forecast that the cost of her support will reduce from nearly £400k/year to a little over £200k as the plan progresses and the reduction in staffing achieved.