From institutional indifference to community presence and paid work

Mr. D's case at Spire Preston

At Spire Preston, staff receive extensive training in different communication techniques such as Makaton, sign language and picture boards, and how to utilise these to effectively provide guidance and advice in a simple and understandable way.

In 2009 Mr D came from a residential service to one of Spire Preston’s supported living houses in the community. He had little access to the community and very little one-to-one support during his time in residential care. He spent a great deal of time isolated in a room, moving jigsaw pieces from one box to another.

Mr D has excellent comprehension and understanding but was unable to talk back. He did use a small amount of Makaton but had actually developed his own code and sign language.

By spending time with him, being patient and getting to understand him and his method of communication better, staff at Spire Preston were able, over time, to prepare a booklet of his sign language, and then train all his support workers to be fully competent in its use.

Spire Preston then worked with him to enhance his verbal skills by referring to the personal signs in his booklet and initially linking them to individuals names for him to repeat- for instance the sign “S” was for Sarah a friend , and the “tick” symbol was for the Registered Manager who he enjoyed watching carry out her tick-lists during spot-checks.

By training staff to support Mr D. with his personal sign booklet, over a period of 6 years Spire Preston helped him develop his speech and last year he introduced Spire’s service user drama production of Robin Hood over a microphone to a live audience.

Mr D can also now write his own name, and his increased communication skills have been accompanied by an increase in confidence in general and his quality of life has changed enormously. Mr D now accesses ordinary community services on a daily basis, has a real presence in his local community, and has a paid job.

See Spire Preston’s page here: