A Successful Placement For Steven

Steven* is autistic and has required professional support since he was a young boy, first in specialist residential education settings and later in in-patient environments as an adult.

Unable to communicate verbally, Steven has sometimes experienced significant behavioural challenges, potentially putting both himself, and those who support him, at risk. Now, as he prepares to turn 40, Steven is living successfully in the community, being supported to live as independently as possible.

The progress Steven has made is all the more remarkable because, as a result of his autism and associated complex mental health difficulties, at times he has needed 4:1 staff support.

He had experienced aggression and serious anti-social behaviour, including causing significant injury to the people supporting him through biting, particularly of the face. As a result. his placement in an inpatient mental health hospital was terminated.

Steven moved to Lakeside where, although the frequency reduced, he continued to bite and to keep him, and those supporting him safe, a care plan was agreed with his family and commissioners that Steven and the team would wear protective equipment on a temporary basis.

Over time, Steven was supported in a number of ways which helped both his physical health and ability to communicate, and his needs and wants were able to be much better understood and acted upon.

A communication passport was developed and the speech and language team ensured everyone working with Steven was aware of his methods of communication, including his own system of gestures similar to Makaton. Biting stopped and there was no need to wear the protective equipment any more. Visual menus of choices were created which helped Steven to communicate his wishes even further.

While Steven enjoyed good daily living skills such as helping with his laundry and smaller chores, he had previously not been keen to spend time with other people supported at Lakeside, preferring to spend time privately. However, that reduced and he began to spend more time with other people.

Through long-term intensive support from across the staff team at Lakeside, Steven’s support needs were able to reduce to 2:1, including in the community where he greatly enjoyed trips to the seaside and shopping, particularly for chocolate and ice-cream. He also enjoyed taking walks, with the quiet location of Lakeside proving to be very effective for Steven.

His mental health difficulties stabilised and a move to the community was carefully planned. Working with Steven’s supported living provider and his family, Lakeside supported a careful transition. He is now settled  and doing well.

Steven’s sister Michelle* takes up his story


“This week Steven has been keeping in touch with me via What’s App from his own home. He was blowing kisses and happy, which is wonderful to see. Because of the pandemic, I can’t visit him currently, but knowing he’s just 30 minutes away from me is wonderful.

“He’s been supported by services since he was five years old and so has spent a lot of time quite far from home and family. At times he’s needed really high levels of staff support and has really struggled, but now, because of the support he had at Lakeside, he lives in supported living in the community.

“The team at Lakeside put really intensive support in place and his quality of life improved as a result. He did well because, although there was really intensive support, it wasn’t like the places he had been before which were clinical and unwelcoming. Lakeside was welcoming, friendly and warm. It was professional, there was green space and it was really personalised for Steven. It made all the difference.

“In the place he was supported before, because he was biting people, they wanted permission to remove his teeth. We were shocked and disgusted and they clearly couldn’t support Steven’s complex needs in a way that protected him and his human rights.

“At Lakeside, they supported him through all of his difficulties through personalised support and caring about him as a person. Lakeside was a godsend.

“The ongoing pandemic has not made family communication between myself, staff and my brother strained. In fact, due to the work between Lakeside and his transition to the new placement, my brother is clearly able to give his opinions on the pandemic.

“Just last week, he communicated to me, via the communication technique learned at Lakeside, that he does not want me to wear a face shield during WhatsApp video calls. My brother’s confidence, in the community seems to be growing.  I am grateful for the Lakeside and their staff to enable this to be possible.”


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