Xenia's story

Xenia with Tracy

It was not so long ago that Xenia was asked to leave a restaurant after showing challenging behaviour and overturning a table in frustration. The 'outburst' was a reflection of Xenia’s complex needs and the fact she was overwhelmed.

Yet just a few months ago, in another local restaurant near her new two-bedroom flat in Hackney, east London, Xenia enjoyed a birthday lunch, was presented with a card from the owners and offered a discount on her return.

Xenia, who is non-verbal and communicates with staff partly through visual prompts, owns 40% of her flat, with the remaining 60% owned by a local social housing landlord. Advance provides her 24-hour one-to-one support.

The transformation in Xenia’s behaviour – the fact she is more confident socially and gets overwhelmed less easily – is the latest successful outcome in her life. She is, as her younger sister Christina says, more settled and “just a lot happier” since she moved out of residential care and into her own place. Previously, she was sharing with another woman with complex needs and the pair had 24-hour care provided by two support staff.

Prior to this Xenia spent many years in different supported living and institutional settings. Since becoming a customer at Advance she received help through our Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Team. The PBS Team helped staff to work in a consistent way with Xenia and helped to develop communication prompts so that Xenia feels understood and listened to by support staff. Recognising the tension that triggered some of Xenia’s behaviour in a shared environment influenced the decision to look into the possibility of Xenia moving into her own home.

Xenia’s keyworker remarks on how Xenia has changed since she has been in her own flat: Although Xenia is without speech, she frequently uses the one word she can say, “better”, since she has been living in her own space. Xenia usually says “better” when she likes something or is giving her consent. “She smiles and even lets me do her hair for her, or help her choose clothes to wear. You know from her body language that she’s more relaxed and happy.”

Christina has a new confidence in her sister and her future thanks to the fact she has her own home. “I know she’s secure and the first time we walked round it with her, to see if she liked it, she had a big smile on her face. It’s light, airy and close to the places where we grew up.”

From a service and support point of view, Xenia’s Service Manager points out that as well as the obvious satisfaction of seeing someone visibly more happy, an individual’s care is easier to manage and deliver if they are more settled. “Finding the right shared ownership property is well worth the investment because you’re investing in someone and it pays dividends. Partnership working is key, with those involved ranging from family to partner organisations, and what’s crucial for us is a focus on what Xenia wants or needs to improve her quality of life. It’s about creating the conditions that allow her to achieve new things.”

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