Being Heard, Being Understood

Building Inclusion By Example
December 18, 2018

When Melissa first moved into supported accommodation in Sydney’s West two years ago, she was feeling very frustrated with life.

“Melissa has had quite a number of experiences of having her intelligence underestimated and of not being listened to,” says Site Manager Rebecca Crompton.

Understandably, as a result, Melissa had a lot of bad days where she would be feeling angry and upset.

From the outset, the Sylvanvale team worked with Melissa to help her get through it.

They made the effort to get to know Melissa. They gained an understanding of what had been causing her frustrations and they learnt what things she likes to do each day.

“Melissa is a wonderful artist,” says Rebecca. “One of the things she loves to do is colour in colouring books for adults. She is very particular about the colours she uses and likes bright, happy colours. Yellow is her favourite colour.”

“She is very sociable too. She likes the staff to sit and colour with her. If she likes their pictures enough she might even put them up on her bedroom wall.”

Melissa’s walls are in fact filled with all her beautiful artworks. Melissa has lots of other interests too, such as going to the park, going to museums, bowling and exercising. Melissa’s ability to engage in the community was limited in the past because people around her didn’t quiet understand how to support her needs. Now, she goes out every day and loves being in the community.

As well as listening to Melissa, the Sylvanvale team employed a behaviour support clinician to attend monthly meetings. The clinician provided advice and acted as a sounding board for staff. The team also has excellent communication – both with Melissa, and between one another – ensuring that they are listening and responding well to her needs.

Supporting Melissa to achieve her goals has been a collaborative community effort too. The staff at Big W have been particularly wonderful at supporting Melissa.

“The team at our local Big W has been amazing,” says Rebecca. “They know when Melissa is coming to the store and how much she has to spend. Once Melissa has selected all of the items she would like to purchase, and this is always more than what she has to spend, Big W staff help her to choose what to keep to stay within budget. Sometimes they stay after the store has closed to help her.”

Melissa is now building up with her team to go to the local markets for the very first time.

Melissa still faces some challenges throughout her day but is more confident in speaking to staff about them. “Melissa sometimes has trouble sleeping and, like with everyone, when she’s tired she can get grumpy,” says Rebecca.

But those days are much fewer and further between.

“The difference in Melissa is amazing and she is so much more settled and happy,” says Rebecca.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work my team has been doing to support Melissa and how far she’s come as a result,” says Rebecca.

Learn how Sylvanvale can help you achieve your goals here.

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