Trudy* has a mild learning disability, hydrocephalus, spina bifida and support needs with her mental health, requiring 1:1 support 24 hours a day. Following an unsettled childhood, she was placed in an Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) at the age of 19.

When United Response staff first met her in this unit back in 2013, Trudy was in her thirties. She was extremely anxious, lacking in confidence, had low self-esteem and was on regular PRN (pro re nata or ‘as needed’) medication to calm her down when her anxieties and behaviours escalated.

Her then-care managers recommended 2:1 support for Trudy, but we thought that this may not be the best way forward for her and so asked if we could get to know her before the decision was made. After the proper assessments, it was agreed that she didn’t need such intensive support, saving the authorities money and, more importantly, ensuring the best outcome for Trudy.

Getting to know Trudy

During the 12 years Trudy was in the ATU, she had only gone out occasionally, if staff were available, and got upset when she knew others were leaving the unit for good.

One Christmas, she was the only ‘patient’ left as the others had gone home or were spending Christmas with their families – this was a terrible time for her.

We spent eight weeks visiting Trudy regularly and building a relationship, before moving her out of the unit. Trudy started to put a lot of trust in us and wanted us around and, on days we weren’t visiting, she would ask if we could phone her – which we always did.

Moving on

Using person-centred techniques, her support staff created a personal profile with her that explained how she liked to be supported, how she communicated and how she wanted her life to be. We also took her out so that she was able to explore what was available in the community.

We found a bungalow that we and other professionals thought was suitable, and involved Trudy in the whole process, which started with a visit and her deciding that she wanted to live there.

Next, we supported Trudy to choose the décor, buy the things she wanted and needed, and then take them to the bungalow. This was an exciting and motivating time for her and she was really looking forward to her new life in her own home.

The new Trudy

Trudy has not had to use PRN medication since we began supporting her and now rarely feels the need to seek reassurance.

She goes to college three times a week studying drama, art and cookery, as well as enjoying a busy social life. She also has a paid job with United Response, helping to interview and train staff. She has a great personality, a lovely sense of humour and gets quite cheeky with it, which we all like!

Her family has noted how well Trudy is doing since leaving the ATU and her relationship with them has also improved. They speak each week on the phone and she has had sleepovers at her sister’s house, as well as getting in contact via email with an uncle who lives abroad.

Today, Trudy is a lot more confident and independent; she has choice and control over her life, and goes out every day.

*Name has been changed.

Laura Cook, web and digital communication assistant.

Find out more about how we support people with mild to moderate learning disabilities, or click here to make a support enquiry.