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John's family support

16 May 2017

Find out how Mencap has supported John to have regular visits to see his family

Alexandra Horsfield

John is in his early 30's and has a large and very close family who have always desperately wanted him to really feel part of a family.

To achieve this John had been regularly visiting his sisters Barbara and Sally-Anne, and his brother-in-laws, young nephews and nieces, and their pets for overnight stays at weekends.

However, this still meant that John had a whole week between contact with his family and they felt that this was a source of anxiety for him.

Sally-Anne asked about the possibility of Mencap supporting John at her house from the time that they had to leave, so that he would not feel rushed. Our domiciliary registration service made this a possibility, but there were a number of other issues to consider to ensure the arrangement was safe and would not infringe on John or his family.

The team, with John and his family, looked at what would need to be put in place for this arrangement to be successful. During the time that John was staying with his family they would be responsible for his safety, and so needed to be fully aware of his needs and to look at any risks that may be specific to the family home. As a group they talked through and addressed the areas of possible risk.

The team now support John to visit Sally-Anne's and have a quick verbal handover. John brings his 'home bag' which includes his packing list, the medication required, medication administration record, medication pen picture, behavioural management strategies, and hospital passport.

It also includes his weekly diary with information about what John has been doing during the week. Both Sally-Anne and Barbara find this really helpful as it allows them to read about John's activities and discuss these with him.

The team arrive again at Sally-Anne's house at 8 am and have another brief verbal handover. With this package John is not rushed and may actually still be in bed asleep. Staff then support him for between 1 and 2 hours as necessary with personal care, dressing, breakfast, medication and getting ready to leave.

John now stays with both sisters every week, although there is flexibility in the arrangement that allows changes at short notice for either John or his sisters if there is illness or they are busy for any reason.

The team never have to remind John when it is time for his sleep-over with Sally-Anne or Barbra, as he will come down stairs in the morning with his overnight bag wanting the team to pack it with him.

The level of frequency and duration of John's time with his sisters has maintained a genuine closeness to their relationship. He clearly loves having his young nephews and nieces around him day by day as they are growing up.

 

Sally-Anne believes that "this support has enriched John's life as well as ours. Without this package John would feel like a mere visitor, and we would feel the familiar pangs of guilt, feeling that we had let a loved one down"

The team feel that the change they have seen in John is "nothing less than fabulous" and fully echo Sally-Anne's view that "We know that John is more content. He is less anxious and has made big advancements. His social interaction has never been as positive, he speaks more words than ever, and can now communicate more effectively because he is, to simply sum it up, happy".

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