Here are some examples of situations where Julie has helped people.
I was asked to visit a young woman (P) who was living in a group home and was becoming increasingly withdrawn and displaying behaviours labelled as 'challenging'.
When I visited I spent some time with P and found she was inquisitive and eager to connect with me. she was using signs to help her communicate some of which I recognised as Makaton signs. Her speech was unclear and this was exacerbated by her frustration at not being able to make herself understood.
Staff at the home were also frustrated at not being able to understand P and by not being able to make themselves understood, and so the situation was fraught for all concerned.
I quickly established that P was using some signs regularly and that a few staff did recognise and know the meaning for these signs. I asked for these signs to be photographed with the meaning written underneath and to be circulated to all supporting P. This was the first step in developing a communication pathway for P.
I then began to work with P on her signing vocabulary, developing her signs and reminding her of some she had forgotten and made her own adaptations to. (this often happens if signing isn't reciprocated)) She was soon signing spontaneously with me.
I then set up a Makaton Beginners course for staff, parents and carers to teach them the Makaton Core Vocabulary stages 1-4 (Most commonly used words) and also taught them how to expand and develop Ps vocabulary by introducing new concepts as and when they became relevant.
After a month I visited P again, what a difference, the whole atmosphere in the house had changed! P was happy, she was now actively engaging with others and was much more confident in herself. Staff too were much happier, knowing that they could communicate effectively with P and were able to support her in a much more meaningful way.
Advocacy Case Study
This is a situation that was greatly improved with the use of some specialist Advocacy skills.
I was called upon to support a 93 year old woman (A) who was admitted in to a nursing home two years ago. She was deaf and used a used a mixture of Makaton/BSL and her own signs. No staff were trained in sign language or in any basic communication techniques. Some staff made attempts at communicating with A but this was usually by shouting, writing basic things down or by using gesture and mime. This was very frustrating for A and she had become withdrawn and depressed.
I was employed to try to work out her sign system and then to advocate on her behalf.
After a few visits 'A' and I struck up a friendship. She looked forward to my visits as I was often the only person to spend any time with her and who was able to communicate with her.
We chatted (through sign) about her family, her likes, dislikes, places she had lived and how she felt about being in a care home .During this time she also told me of things that upset her e.g. She felt staff were too rough with her ( she was very frail) and that she hadn't been outside of the home for two years, and that she hated fish ( the home served fish every Friday!) and that she wanted her hair brushing forward instead of being scraped back. Basic things that staff should have been aware of, that led to her feeling frustrated, patronised and uncared for!
I became her advocate and relayed everything she told me back to the manager and, if things weren't resolved to 'A's satisfaction, I would say so. This soon led to a person-centred plan of care and communication being set up.
I was later also able to deliver training to staff in basic signs that were used commonly by A and some signs that they could use to ask questions, assess comfort and generally offer choice.
I continued to visit A for several months and support staff when necessary.
'A' became much more settled and content knowing that she was now 'listened to' and I was gradually able to withdraw my advocacy services as staff became more confident in communicating with her.