Joanna’s story from hospital to home

Joanna spent more than 22 years in a secure hospital setting until she came to Look Ahead

She is diagnosed with severe autism, epilepsy and severe behaviours of concern.

Before coming to Look Head, Joanna was experiencing difficulties in her personal life compounded by the severity of her conditions.

Throughout the time she was in hospital it was clear to both her family and commissioners that her quality of life was poor and the care she received didn’t match her needs.


Transition to Look Ahead

Following an assessment, Look Ahead began working in partnership with a multi-disciplinary team made up of psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, advocates and family members brought together with the sole mission of finding a suitable home for Joanna within the community.

Look Ahead firstly needed to find a property that would work given Joanna’s physical and behavioural needs. With the support of Grand Union Housing Association and the supervision of our Business Development Team, together with input from an occupational therapist, a suitable property was identified and adapted to minimise any risk.

A 12-month transition plan was developed which slowly introduced staff to Joanna, supporting her and allowing her to set the pace. Transition had to stop following COVID-19 restrictions on visitors, but partnership work continued with regular meetings for updates and bespoke trainings arranged by the Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT) for staff.

When transition restarted, staff were provided with all necessary skills to work with Joanna to minimise the disruptions of lockdown.

Debbie Neill

Many organisations would have stayed away from Joanna’s case, labelling it too difficult. I am proud to work for an organisation that has the passion and the properties to develop bespoke, person-centred placements for people with complex learning disabilities who were previously in hospital settings.

Person-centred care and support at Look Ahead

Look Ahead’s team collaborated with the lead psychologist in Joanna’s case to, devise bespoke training for staff, specifically centred on Joanna’s behaviour. Using the Positive Behaviour Support approach, training focused on helping the team address the motivations behind her behaviours and how to handle any possible incidents.

A plan was submitted to the Court of Protection that was designed to minimise hospital readmissions. It included a ‘crash pad’ environment, together with strategies to increase staffing levels and specialist input within 24 hours from a crisis, including on call and out-of-hours arrangements.

The plan is constantly evaluated to ensure the environment and staff skills, continue to meet Joanna’s needs. This thrives on partnership with the wider multi-disciplinary team, including the family and Joanna herself.


Joanna’s progress

Joanna’s has been with Look Ahead for nearly two years. The placement hasn’t been without challenges but Joanna continues to make great progress.

Joanna’s support team continually tailor their intervention strategies and are learning how to anticipate her behaviour. With a drastic reduction in incidents, staff have been able to introduce more activities based on Joanna’s communication needs using specific tools. They will soon have use of a Motability car for Joanna to access the wider community and travel to the seaside and amusement parks as these are her aspirations.

Joanna's sister

"My mum and I are very happy with Joanna’s improvements…considering how long Joanna has been with you we think she has made good progress in this time and can see further progression happening over time.”