Written by Annamarie Sables, Registered Manager, Ponderosa
In September 2019 we received a call from a Senior Social Worker in relation to a lady who needed a new placement. It was explained that this lady was 39 years old and had lived in the placement for the last 20 years. The statement of purpose was Ponderosa to support people up to the age of 40, but it sounded like this lady had fallen through the system and I felt that I wanted to assess her, and if need be changing the statement of purpose.
Myself and the Deputy went to see the lady at the end of September. She lived in a unit which was specialised in supporting Deaf people with additional needs. The place was very quiet and I did not see any signing taking place. When we were introduced to CH, she was in her room. CH had a tiny TV high on the wall. It was explained that CH was deaf, blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other, she was also diagnosed with Diabetes, a severe learning disability and other health needs.
CH was about to sign CH when we signed what her name was. We were not aware of her level of understanding of BSL in either communication or receptive skills.
It was explained that a manager had worked in the unit for 20 years and there was very little signing used, and the staff team had recently started their level 1 in BSL.
Whilst carrying out the assessment and watching the environment and the engagement between the residents and the staff, I knew that CH would be able to thrive in Ponderosa.
CH moved in Ponderosa on the 14th October 2019. All of CH care plans were out of date, I therefore made the decision to start from scratch, for us to learn CH, see what level of independence she had, and also to see what level of understanding she had in relation to communication and getting her needs met and then I would build a bespoke care plan around CH needs.
We quickly learnt that CH loved to watch signing, and her level of concentration whilst doing this was amazing. CH would also copy the signing and her face was lit up with the amount of signing and the amount of deaf staff. At times it did come across as a little over whelming and that CH also enjoyed sitting in a room on her own.
We also learnt that CH enjoyed creative arts and painting. CH loved to be involved in things on her terms and would vocalise when it was something she didn’t want to be involved in.
CH could come across as quite bossy, with lots of facial features. CH has an amazing sense of humour, and has time has gone by, it was clear that CH trust in us had grown.
CH gradually signed more, we learned that she knew the alphabet and knew what we were signing and would write the letters down. We learnt that she loved going to live shows and understood what was happening around her.
We have also had speech and language therapy involved with CH, and she showed us that she understood facial expressions and can link them to emotions.
I think historically people have underestimated CH, and it shows with the right level of support and the right learning environment CH amazes us every day.
CH has now started using sign in context and understands jokes, CH enjoys her life and can be assertive in getting her needs met, and we all feel very privileged to have been involved in her journey.