In April 2021 AFG were awarded the support package for Sarah, a woman with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, a learning disability and dysphagia. She is also non-verbal.

Building trust

Following breakdowns of previous support, Sarah’s team were chosen carefully by skills matching them to Sarah’s needs. They built a trusting relationship with her and her family and worked in close partnership with her multi-disciplinary team to ensure her positive behaviour support plans were followed.  

They worked with her to understand her communication methods, signals and tools, which included eye gaze technology and picture cards. As Sarah settled into her home and built up a good relationship with the team, she was able to communicate what she wanted and the team understand her needs.

Support with diet and communication

Sarah was initially severely underweight and required meal supplements, with close monitoring of her weight and diet. As her communication with her support team improved, she was able to tell them exactly what she wanted for her meals and she gained weight due to eating a healthy, balanced diet and no longer needing meal supplements.

With support from AFG and her Speech and Language Therapy team, Sarah passed an assessment for an advanced communication tool which has completely transformed her life. The tool allows Sarah to communicate with full sentences rather than being limited to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers as she was before.

Using their knowledge of Sarah, her team have added personalised options to the device, including what she likes to eat and her favourite activities, meaning she can now have meaningful conversations. She communicates effectively with her support team and family and expresses her personality, for example by making jokes – when she asked for one of the team to do something for her while they were busy, she used the tool to say: “Am I talking to myself?”

A completely different life

Sarah’s life looks completely different now she is able to fully express herself and enjoy a range of hobbies and activities.

Using an advanced communication tool, which she had not passed the assessment for previously, she is now able to express her personality and communicate effectively.

Where she had previously been underweight, on meal supplements and receiving ongoing support from her Speech and Language Therapy Support team, she has now been discharged from the team, has gained weight and eats a healthy and balanced diet.

Sarah is supported to attend a range of activities in the community, including discos, boxing, and hydrotherapy swimming. A year into her support with AFG, Sarah attended a review meeting where she was asked to give a mark for her mental and physical health, and she gave the highest mark possible.


Sarah’s mum, Margaret, talks about what this has meant for Sarah and their family.