When Helen first arrived in the care of Alternative Futures Group she was struggling with a range of debilitating symptoms. Due to her anxiety, she would compulsively smoke cigarettes and drink cups of tea to the point that it made her physically unwell, as well as other compulsive behaviours such as pacing from room to room throughout the day.
Helen was almost completely non-verbal, communicating only by nodding her head to indicate yes or shaking her head to indicate no.
Her support team organised support from clinical professionals to address her smoking and excessive drinking, which involved establishing regular check-ins and an hourly routine which included activities such as walks, bus trips and activities around the house.
A period of dramatic change
Helen made great progress with this routine, which meant that it could be steadily relaxed. This had such a positive impact that she stopped asking for cigarettes, and no longer drank tea to excess.
Following these successes, her team raised the possibility of reducing her medication at her next review with her consultant doctor. This led to the doctor discussing this with Helen, who was happy to start the transition.
The team supported her with this over the course of a number of months. She steadily improved and showed no challenging or compulsive behaviours.
Her support team said: “Helen blossomed. Her communication changed dramatically – she began to sit and relax throughout her days, watching TV and chatting with staff.”
To celebrate her achievements, Helen wanted to use the money she had saved from quitting smoking for a celebration party and to put towards a holiday.
She had never been abroad or on a plane and she communicated to her staff that she would like to take this next step.
Her team supporting her in finding an appropriate location and accommodation – a small villa in a gated community in Lanzarote. As Helen boarded the airplane she immediately started chatting to other passengers, showing a more outgoing side to her personality.
Where previously she always kept to herself, during the trip she was bubbly and chatty, speaking to staff and staying up late to enjoy the entertainment. The trip went better than her team could have hoped for.
A lasting impact
Once back from the trip, Helen continued to express herself and communicate. She began greeting staff with a ‘good morning’, staying up later at night to chat, and eventually speaking candidly to staff about her parents’ passing.
Today Helen is no longer anxious and does not display any of the compulsive behaviours she used to.
Her team said: “It is incredible to see Helen as the outgoing, social and relaxed individual she is today. She has been given a new life, and she certainly intends to live it to the fullest.”