Previously, Michael had found even small changes in his daily routine difficult. Therefore, in March 2012, his move from Hertfordshire to our supported living service in Westminster involved a lot of planning and the careful consideration of all his needs. In the three months it took him to transition to his new home, we teamed up with Westminster Learning Disability Partnership representatives and Michael’s care manager to discuss how best to support him.
To gain his confidence and trust before the move, the team started to spend more time with Michael, working closely with him so he would become familiar with their presence and feel at ease. They supported Michael’s visits to his new flat and helped him choose his own furniture (Michael loves the colour red). This all helped to make Michael’s new flat really feel like his own and ensured that Michael was involved in all areas of his independent development.
Communication throughout the process was key. Michael uses Makaton (a form of sign language) to converse and a fundamental part of providing support to him was having a team that could confidently communicate through signing. One of our behavioural coordinators also worked with staff to produce social stories and new TEACCH daily routines that Michael contributed to, enabling him to understand where he was moving to and why.
Since he moved to his new flat Michael has integrated into his local community extremely well. Prior to moving Michael only used cars and taxis for transport, but now he makes use of buses, trains and the London underground. He has joined a number of social, music and exercise groups and is now living a full and active social life.
Four years on, Michael still loves his flat and has built up great relationships with the staff team who support him and the people he has met in his community. He goes regularly to the local gym, library and church. Michael now has pet fish to look after and has recently enjoyed purchasing a new double bed, sofa and armchair for his flat (he still loves shopping and the colour red!).