I am really safe here with great staff. They help me loads and always listen to my problems when I need them.
Steven (named changed to protect identity) is autistic, has a learning disability and bi-polar disorder, with a history of self harm. He came to live at Look Ahead’s learning disability service in Hertfordshire in October 2021, following a stay in a secure hospital.
Before his hospital admission, Steven had been badly treated in another learning disability service and had experienced neglect, leading to abuse and exploitation in the community.
One consequence was that Steven racked up thousands of pounds in debt. His experience led to a mental health crisis and a suicide attempt that resulted in him being sectioned.
His previous provider had given notice after Steven attempted to leave and because he was also unable to pay his rent due to the debts he accumulated.
After a detailed assessment, Look Ahead identified that Steven’s problems had arisen through a lack of appropriate support.
Steven was also found to be vulnerable to exploitation due to attachment issues, which resulted in him developing fixations with individuals close to him
Supported accommodation was identified as being the most appropriate option and Steven was offered a self-contained flat.
Look Ahead arranged for Steven to see a relationship therapist, to support him with identifying appropriate boundaries in relationships.
A different member of Look Ahead’s team supported Steven each day to reduce the risk of him forming inappropriate attachments.
Person centred support
A priority was supporting Steven to pay off his debt and learn budgeting skills. Together with a Look Ahead staff member, Steven identified the amount of money that he needed to live off each week, splitting the remainder between paying off his debt in instalments and savings.
Steven identified things he wanted to buy, which encouraged him to save his money for his own internet connection, a Netflix subscription and a laptop.
Due to his history of self harm, Steven agreed to lock away all items that could present a danger to him in the cupboards in his flat, with staff keeping the keys. Today, Steven has full access to equipment in his flat, with only his medication kept by staff.
When Steven first came to Look Ahead he was completely lacking in confidence to do anything in his community.
Today, Steven is full of confidence. He has started volunteering to arrange internal activities and parties at his service, he goes to the gym regularly and has enrolled at college.
He is now saving up for a trip to Disneyland Paris with his keyworker.
Steven has made so much progress that staff are exploring the possibility of independent living as a future goal.