Sally has lived at our Basingstoke supported living service for several years. Sally has been non-verbal since she was 8 years old, after trauma in her childhood. She is 56 now, she suffers from extreme anxiety, and had completely withdrawn into herself. When she moved here, she wouldn’t leave her flat; however, things started to change recently when support workers Caroline and Sandra began working closely with Sally to gradually build a strong level of trust.
Service manager, Christine, said: “Sally now communicates by writing everything down. When Sally first moved in, she faced severe anxiety and withdrew into her flat, hoarding and neglecting herself. I began building trust with her by walking up and down the corridor with her, just to get her out of her flat, and over time developed a routine of having coffee together downstairs with her every Friday, but progress stalled beyond that point.
“Our experienced support worker Caroline asked if she could be Sally’s key worker. Caroline’s sister Sandra, who’s another support worker here has also been working closely with them and since then we have started to see some remarkable changes.”
Caroline said: “We started off really small, I’d communicate with Sally standing in her doorway so she wasn’t leaving her flat and I wasn’t going in. Sally then agreed to start having a coffee with me once a week – she still wouldn’t let me in her flat so I made a little dining area just outside where we would sit each week.
“Sally would communicate with me by writing things down and one day expressed her interest in The Little House on the Prairie, a childhood TV show that she likes. She told me some of her other likes and some of her favourite foods. Through gradual and respectful encouragement, I started to gain Sally’s trust. A little while later she wrote me a letter inviting me into her flat to cook pie, chips, and gravy and watch her favourite show with her. Since then, I have visited every Thursday to cook a meal for her and watch TV together.
“About 5 weeks ago Sally surprised us again when she agreed to come on a walk around the woods with me and another resident. This sparked the beginning of regular outings down to the local park and back and eventually to the local coffee shop and even into Tesco to do her own food shop for the first time.
“Another massive thing we’ve worked on is her care and hygiene. We’ve had an optician and a hairdresser visit, as well as a podiatrist.
“With Sally’s trust in us, myself and my sister Sandra were able to go inside her flat and declutter her kitchen and dining room. We’ve also been helping her with her laundry and giving her gentle prompts when needed. While there are still areas we are working on, we are taking a step-by-step approach, and the progress we have seen so far is remarkable.
The transformation in Sally is absolutely incredible. Her personality is shining through more and more as her confidence grows. She’s laughing and smiling, you can see how much happier she is. She’s even starting to interact with other members of staff as well, having a laugh and joke with them, it’s just lovely.
The achievements the team have made with Sally are amazing. A few months ago, this activity would have been unheard of for Sally and now her quality of life has improved massively.
Caroline and Sandra’s creative and intuitive approach coupled with Sally’s bravery and trust has led to remarkable changes in her life.