The last year has been a challenging time for everyone but it presented some particular challenges when Henry looked to move into Hightown Association’s The Trees service, a supported living home in rural Buckinghamshire, where staff care for four adults who are autistic.
Henry’s family were looking forward to him joining The Trees in March 2020, after previous placements hadn’t worked out. Henry, who has fairly high sensory needs, had struggled to leave the home he shared with his mother and was initially reluctant to stay somewhere new. With the support of Tina Waltz, the scheme manager and other staff members, he started his transition plan to move into the service and attended two sleepovers. Unfortunately, the additional sleepover had to be cancelled due to the first lockdown.
This meant it would be another four months until Henry could come back and visit The Trees. Instead, Henry started to build a relationship with the team by sending the team emails, and photos of what he was doing during lockdown. The staff also learnt a lot about him from his family during this time.
Progress was made and Henry moved into the service. However, the second lockdown was then imposed, so his weekend visits with his family had to be cancelled. This caused concerns since Henry had not lived away from his family home successfully before and the staff knew he would miss the regular contact with his mum.
For someone who is autistic, these sudden changes were particularly stressful and Henry’s behaviour became challenging. Tina and other staff members offered Henry the additional support he needed and he began to feel more settled. Henry has a passion for IT so he was emailing pictures to his mother and a few other people known to him, as a way to stay in touch.
Once the second lockdown restrictions were eased, Henry began to see his mum on some socially distanced walks before this had to stop during the third lockdown. Henry had to get a new routine in place, including, using an exercise bike instead of having his usual walks. He also began to tidy the garage and do other things around the house.
Henry has shown the staff how he wanted his room to look and how he prefers not to have any clutter or too much furniture. Now with the support of the team, he’s learning how to cook and likes to prepare meals for his housemates at The Trees. He’s also now back to visiting his local Day Centre which he enjoys.
A year on from his first sleep over and Henry is settled in his new home and understands he lives at The Trees. Henry’s learnt to adapt to his routine and asks for his bike when he’s feeling anxious or wants to burn off some energy.
Henry’s parents add:
“We have seen Henry develop his independent skills including his house hold duties like tidying and cooking. He always speaks positively of The Trees and his care staff and is seeking less assurance about ‘home’. Overall this year has been a very positive period despite the COVID challenge, but by having these firm boundaries imposed on us by the Government, may have helped Henry with the move.”
“Henry’s transition has been a massive piece of work for all involved, the level of support from his family and the team at The Trees has been the reason for this success. There have been so many things they have overcome together. I am proud to have been the team manager through all of this.”