One of the people I began to support during my first week of shadowing was a real, correction, is a real character !
Before I go on, I’ll briefly explain the process. Each person who is referred to enablement is given 6 weeks support. (6 weeks is a ridiculously small amount of time to help and support someone turn their life around, and it’s a constant bone of contention) Every so often, an individual is granted a 6 week extension if they’re not fully engaging with support or their improvement would be compromised if support was withdrawn. In my opinion, support should never be stopped until the individual is in full remission mentally and fully independent. Sometimes, support should never be cut off ! What’s the point in supporting and enabling someone if we’re not going to see it through until the end, whatever the end may be ?
So, back to the ‘Character ‘. A colleague of mine has ‘Supported’ him for about 2 years! He’s a long term client, someone who has been deemed ‘Beyond’ everyday support and almost impossible to enable. The difference that makes him long term is this. There are no other services out there who are willing to offer him support. The general consensus is, the other services don’t know how to support them, so it’s handed over to us. (This is the overall opinion of my colleagues, who have far more experience than me)
The first time I met him was entertaining, confusing and pretty demoralising. We pressed his flat intercom (Which is no longer in existence because it was mysteriously ripped off the wall, and hasn’t been replaced) and waited for a reply. It crackled but we could make out intermittent words. If you remember the British comedian Norman Collier and his ‘it’s working, it’s not working microphone sketch’, you’ll know what I mean. We waited outside the building for a few minutes, waiting for some kind of coherent communication, when suddenly, the door opened. He came bouncing out to greet us, his arms flaying around, his eyes wider than a black hole. He looked at me in surprise and my colleague introduced me. He went to shake my hand but there was some sort of radioactive glue stuck to his fingers, so I offered a fist bump, which he accepted with a pretend explosion to decorate our greeting.
All three of us walked into the local town centre. Well actually, my colleague and I walked, but he bounced like an exaggerated moon walker, gliding on marshmallows. Every few seconds, he stopped to speak to a random passer-by and repeatedly said, “Have a nice weekend, lovely to see you, look after yourself, merry Christmas “. And during the times he wasn’t be pleasant to strangers, he stood by the side of the road extending the middle finger to passing cars, giving them his ‘I’m going to kill you ‘ stare!!!
In amongst all of this erratic behaviour, we tried to convince him to follow us into shops so we could support him to buy essentials. And, he never, ever stops thanking us for our support! When I say never ever, I mean to the point that you want him to stop. I hear it in my sleep!!!
He has a problem with drugs and alcohol, which plays a major part in his behaviour but he also has psychological problems, so it’s quite difficult to know which ‘Problem’ has the biggest influence over him. As I mentioned, we eventually persuade him to go into shops and encourage him to buy healthy produce. He’s emaciated. However He, he has been deemed to have ‘Capacity’ by psychiatrists, so if he wants to buy items that are not really healthy and nutritious, he just gets on with it.
His flat/Apartment looks like a bomb has exploded, smothered with street garbage has exploded all over it. We support him to clean it up as best we can, but often, he will stop us from throwing things away by saying “Don’t throw that please, I found that yesterday. I like it”. When he says “Found” he means he’s worked his way through a bin in the streets, and found something he may be able to sell or swap for money or drugs.
I discovered very quickly, that I really like this chap, I Don’t know why, I just do, he possesses real character born out of a life of mental illness and hardship.
There’s quite a lot to say about this character, who I will refer to as Mr XYZ, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Hope everyone’s well?