There’s no doubt that the lockdown has had a big impact on everyone, and at the beginning we had concerns about how some of the people we support would react to it.
One such person we had concerns for was Clive in Reading who has a history of challenging behaviour which is triggered by stress or change in his life. However, he has surprised his team with how well he has coped and has thrived the whole way through.
Bank support worker Iain Maxwell takes up the story.
“I’ve worked with Clive since 2016. He has had a tough life, moving into an ATU at 18 and having various placements break down until he moved into his own home in 2010. He has mental health problems and learning disabilities. He copes well on medication however he still has a few behavioural problems. It’s all about being aware of the triggers and putting things back to him in a positive way.
I’ve always found him to be an absolute gentleman and we’ve found that having people around him who know how to keep him calm really helps. So when we knew lockdown was going to happen, I volunteered to work with him on a 1:1 basis five days a week to provide consistent support for him throughout lockdown.
Last week he went to visit his mum for the first time since lockdown started. His mum has been shielding so has been unable to visit, but she wanted to see him to hand him his birthday present. They were really keen to see each other. Clive has been very understanding of the lockdown restrictions, and is often heard to say “I like to follow government advice and stay safe” which he follows with “I want you to be safe as well”.
Clive receives support Monday to Friday. If he gets lonely on a weekend he will sometimes call me and I’ll pop over. I’ve been phoning him a couple of times over the weekend to check he’s ok. I wouldn’t have done this before lockdown, but I know how important it is to maintain his anxiety levels.
Clive is such an active person and before lockdown he would go to the gym during the week. During the main lockdown period we went out every single day. He has his own gym in his garage and he loves going for bike rides and mammoth walks so we’ve done these activities every day. Since joining him for long walks during lockdown I’ve lost over a stone in weight!
Finding the positives
He is also obsessed with public toilets, often taking his shaving gear out with him so he can have a quick shave whenever he comes across any on his walks. His medication also means that he has to go to the toilet regularly, and he would stop for a loo break every 20 – 30 minutes. We realised that this was mainly habitual, so with public toilets being closed we’ve managed to stop the habit and he can now last 4-5 hours between toilet breaks.
We’ve found that little achievements become big things. When we’ve come back from his bike rides or walks, we do lots of cleaning at home. Clive has been changing his own bedding, and he’s been determined and proud of this. We clean the house together every day and he is going the extra mile, keeping his house immaculate. He’s a messy person so this is a major achievement for him. He keeps it up, even at the weekends.
Giving back to the community
Before lockdown, Clive was working at Thrive, a community farm nearby where people with learning disabilities can attend therapeutic gardening and horticulture sessions. Clive is unable to work at Thrive at the moment, but I introduced him to a manager at Oxfam on Wednesday to see if he would enjoy volunteering there. He really enjoyed his introduction volunteering session and soon set himself to work. He loves DVDs and chose a few to purchase for himself. He is keen to go back next Wednesday.He really wants to give back to society, it keeps him motivated and keeps his mind active. He loves being in the community, he feels it makes his life worth living again. Says Clive, “I love being out in the community and I’m enjoying my life.”
It’s such a joy to support somebody who gives so much back.”
Clive has been given lots of praise on how he has dealt with all the changes this year. Says Clive “I’m really proud of myself.”
Clive has remained positive throughout, adding, “Can we still go on long walks when the virus is over?”