Finding her voice: Claire’s progress at Birchwood

One of the people we support at Birchwood, Claire*, has recently been on a positive trajectory that we’d love to share with you. Three months ago, she was in a difficult place with challenging behaviours which were affecting her quality of life. She was not able to join community groups with her peers, and her self-confidence was being affected.


Collaborative working

As a Liaise home, Birchwood benefits from in-house SALT (Speech and Language Therapy) and PBS (Positive Behavioural Support) experts. Claire’s support team worked with this team to put a plan in place. This involved a functional behavioural analysis from the PBS team, to understand what was driving the behaviours. Additionally, the SALT team completed a communication assessment with Claire to ensure we were communicating with her in a way that met her needs.


Discovering TalkingMats

The SALT assessment uncovered a new communication method for Claire known as TalkingMats. This is a visual communication framework, which allowed Claire to be supported to express her feelings and views with a tool that worked for her.

Through TalkingMats, Claire’s support team was able to explore her likes, dislikes, and interests, and were able to find out how she would like to spend her time. This built a strong foundation for Claire to be able to work towards her goals and improve her quality of life. Some of her goals included exploring local activities, going to dance classes and craft sessions, and cooking foods from her cultural background.


Making progress

Our colleagues have been given extensive training on TalkingMats and how to use them with Claire. Through using it with her on a daily basis, they have been able to explore so many opportunities and communicate with her much more effectively. This has been a huge progress in minimising her behaviours of concern, as it has enabled her to communicate positively and express herself and her feelings.


A positive journey

A few months on, now Claire attends a dance class regularly each week. Alongside regular craft sessions, she also goes to karaoke regularly which she enjoys a lot. This is a huge improvement from the isolation she was experiencing previously. She also enjoys cooking and is assisting in the kitchen to cook her cultural foods. It is an ongoing journey, but one that Claire and her support workers now feel much more braced to embark on.


*Names have been changed.