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Supporting Charley – a Transforming Care case study

Avenues has supported a young woman with autism to end nine years of medication and depression in a psychiatric hospital and begin a new life in her own home, rediscovering what makes her smile …

Charley was admitted to a psychiatric unit when her challenging behaviours escalated in 2009.

While this admission was only planned to be short term, in 2017 she was still being held in the secure institution. She was heavily medicated with haloperidol and lorazepam and her depression meant that she had no motivation to speak or express herself.

Avenues was approached about the possibility of supporting Charley, who was then 29, to move into her own home as part of the government’s Transforming Care programme.

“We knew that a previous transition out of hospital in 2015 had failed when she broke out of the building and tried to get into moving cars” explained Avenues Development Director Andrea Wiggins, “But the more we found out about her situation, the more motivated we were to get involved.

“She had been institutionalised but we knew that she still had skills, and that she could have a much better life. We worked with her family and the local authority to plan a gradual six-month move out of hospital and into her own flat, in order to make sure this transition worked.

“Then it was announced the unit that Charley was being held in was closing in nine weeks, which presented a huge challenge as we were still determined to deliver a successful transition for her.”

 Avenues worked with the multidisciplinary team in Haringey to develop their understanding of Charley, and her need for boundaries and routine.

Service Manager Maxine Gibson (pictured) said: “The home environment was quite unfamiliar for her as she had spent to so much of her life in institutions.

“We gradually introduced her to things like cookery – she asked for chicken and rice. On her fourth night in her own home she was making chicken biryani, and washing up the dirty dishes. 

She’s now reading and writing, practicing yoga and rediscovering dancing, which we had found out she loved to do as a child. She bakes cakes for visitors, and she’s started smiling.

“Because she’s never really experienced community life, she’s still anxious about leaving her flat. But she’s asking about fish and chips, so we’ll work with that and support her to visit a chippy!” Charley hasn’t needed any antipsychotics or benzodiazepines since Jan 2018.

Janice Lepori, Lead Nurse at Haringey Community Learning Disabilities Team, said: “The effort of the Avenues team has gone far beyond what any other provider may have done to support a successful transition. From the decision of the manager stay at the home overnight to support her and the staff team, to the plans to make Charley’s birthday extra special – there is a real sense of positivity which she is responding to and it’s wonderful to see.”

Charley (pictured left)

is enjoying baking for people.