Working hard to increase quality of life and happiness.

When Michael, 60, a person we support with severe learning disabilities in Swansea was not able to visit his dying mother in hospital, our team worked to find a solution to a challenging situation. Michael first came into our care over 10 years ago following an emergency placement at Maes Glas after the death of his father. Michael’s mother, Joyce, could no longer cope with being his primary carer. The transition from the home he’s always known to a new one in our care was a big change for Michael. “When he first arrived, he slept on the settee for 2 weeks and refused to go to his room”, Tracey his former support worker, now Locality Manager tells me. “We had to wash him in the lounge”, she explains.

Michael finally settled into his new home despite not leaving the house during the first 6 months after moving in. We recognise that each person we support is unique and that their relationship with their family member is paramount. We ensured that Michael and his mother were able to keep in contact, Michael’s mother visited him every Friday. Our aim is the quality of life and happiness of each person we support, Michael is non-compliant with challenging behaviour and his team have found that to manage this, he needs and likes routine. This routine includes going for a drive in his car every day and watching Man About the House and On The Buses. People are at the heart of everything we do, our team have a passion for supporting people, this combined with a ‘can do’ attitude ensure the people we support live their lives to the full.

The team and Tracey have developed a system with Michael where he answers prompts, he also has key words, “He calls me “Eee” and says Radio for Gwyn, who also lives here as Gwyn always plays the radio”, Tracey says with fondness. It’s clear Tracey enjoys her job and enjoys supporting Michael, “I’ve been supporting him for 8 years”, she tells me. The team, work with Michael for greater independence, “It’s the little things, he helps put the tea bag in the cup when making tea or he’ll hold his socks and help put them away”, Tracey explains.

In October 2017, Joyce, Michael’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, Michael unfortunately could not visit her in hospital due to his behaviours and learning disability, “the environment wouldn’t have been the best for him”, Tracey says. Tracey and our Operations and development manager, Sara would visit Joyce on Michael’s behalf bringing her photos and videos of him, filmed using an iPad to show her. Our team understand that support can be provided in various ways and not just for the person we support but for their family member also. Joyce died a few weeks after her diagnosis in November 2017. “It was hard explaining it to Michael and even now he often says ‘Mummy’, we tell him ‘Mummy’s sleeping’”, Tracey says softly. Tracey, Sara and Michael’s keyworker David, all attended his mother’s funeral to represent Michael but also because “we had great respect for his Mum who was a lovely lady, Tracy says.

Tracey is dedicated, listening to how she communicated with Michael and how she speaks about him, “we have a well-established team”, Tracey explains, “we know Michael well, it’s been a team effort to get to where we are today with him”. It’s a privilege to have individuals like her and her team working with Walsingham Support for an equal and diverse society where individuals with disabilities are citizens in their own right.