Ben's story - #Storiesfromthestreets - 18/11/2019
#StoriesFromTheStreets - this is a case study that was recently shared at an event organised by VCS who are commissioned by the Local Authority to deliver outreach, supported accommodation and prevention and recovery intervention to some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
Ben was a regular 'Rough Sleeper', well-known to the City Centre Policing Team due to his violent outbursts, when drinking. He had been known to Homeless Services for over twenty-five years and had used up all of his options for supported accommodation and permanent housing due to his behaviour in tenancies during this time.
Ben was someone with complex and challenging needs; verbally abusive and threatening at times, doubly incontinent on occasion, reluctant to engage with any support offered, including help to reduce his alcohol intake. However challenging he seemed he was also extremely vulnerable and unwell. He had suffered several falls and broken his ankle, affecting his ability to get around. He was increasingly frail and very isolated. He was in temporary accommodation due to his frail condition and increasing needs.
Staff in the supported setting worked with Ben on the most basic living skills: helping with food shopping, washing his clothes, organising incontinency pants and organising a deep clean of his temporary home. They adapted the property to enable effective cleaning, to better manage the incontinence, and provided new furniture and soft furnishings. Importantly, they provided emotional support by just simply sitting with him whilst listening to stories of his life. A referral was made to the Adult Social Care to look at his care package.
Adult Social Care became involved and a basic care package was put in place to encourage his interaction and acceptance of his care needs. This increased over the following months but was monitored to make sure that the change wasn’t overwhelming and at a pace that would encourage him to accept more support, which he did during his stay. Commissioners and housing staff were at a loss as to where he could be placed to support his increasing needs and manage his safety. This was partly due to other long-term homeless people and street drinkers taking advantage of his finances and that he was also 'banned' from all other supported services. There was a high risk that he would become street homeless again and not last another winter out on the streets. Eventually, a sheltered scheme was suggested, with some reservations, though all agreed that Ben deserved a chance at a forever home.
Staff worked using ‘PIE’ – or ‘psychologically informed environment’ approach - to ensure that Ben was at the centre of all decisions made and was given every opportunity to refuse the property should he change his mind. This involved understanding that Ben’s violent outbursts were a response to anxiety, stress and pressure. They were a way of coping for him and not be taken personally.
Over the next few weeks, whilst waiting for a property to become available, people worked together to ensure Ben was supported. This included an advance care package to be in place for his new property and arrangements for his finances to be managed by Court of Protection. Staff from the new setting visited him in the temporary setting to build relationships and help settled him during the transition.
Staff from the temporary setting helped him move and settled into his new home. Staff say that there have been many highs and lows over the last few months including his continuing verbally abusive outbursts, a dancing washing machine in his kitchen (fixed by local PCSO) and unwanted visitors to the property.
Staff have persevered with all these difficulties and can now report that he is settled and managing well. Ben has a comfortable home, food in the cupboards, savings in the bank, and the peace of mind that he has found his forever home. He is engaging well with his Care Team, has reduced his alcohol intake and is no longer incontinent. He's becoming part of his new community. Other residents at the sheltered scheme have been tolerant whilst he has adapted to his new surroundings and gained confidence in his new community. He now enjoys the Lunch Club on a weekly basis and for the first time in many years has a television of his own, that he enjoys watching.