When Jake’s support worker told him he had to move into a new flat on his own, he was upset and worried. Nobody would listen to him except the manager at his day centre - and his VoiceAbility advocate.
Jake lived with his best friend, in a house where they enjoyed gardening and listening to music together. The new flat didn’t look safe, and he didn’t understand why he had to move. Jake wanted someone separate from his social work team and support workers to help him find out what was happening, to help him decide what to do, and to get his voice heard. The manager at Jake’s day centre asked an advocate, Louise, to help Jake.
Louise met Jake and his social work team. They didn’t know anything about the plans for Jake to move out of his home. Because Jake and his friend had a learning disability, support workers from a care agency were helping them to live independently. Jake and his friend had told their support workers that they wanted to stay living together, but the care agency wouldn’t respect their wishes.
Although Jake found it difficult to talk, he could use single words, Makaton and pictures to explain his thoughts and feelings. Louise talked to Jake on his own so that he could have private conversations about his wishes and feelings. She made sure that the social work team and care agency started listening to Jake, and explaining what was happening. Louise helped Jake tell his social work team and the care agency that he didn’t want to move into the new flat.
I told him that it was his right to stay at home, and his face and eyes lit up...
The care agency told Louise that they wanted Jake and his friend to move out so that someone else could live in their house. But the person in charge of the flat told Louise that Jake would not be happy and safe there. There was no garden, and someone else with support needs, who had lived in the same building before, had trouble from drug dealers. Louise told Jake that the care agency wasn’t allowed to move him to an unsafe flat.
Louise helped Jake understand that he had the right to choose where he lived. “I found a lovely new bungalow with a garden, and we visited it together but I could tell from his body language that he still wasn’t happy,” says Louise. “I said, ‘do you like this place?’ and he said ‘No’, and then said his friend’s name.” Later on, using pictures and Makaton, Jake explained again to Louise and his social worker that he definitely wanted to stay in his home with his friend. “I told him that it was his right to stay at home, and his whole body relaxed. His face and eyes lit up. He put his thumb up to sign ‘OK’, and smiled.”
The care agency agreed that Jake had the right to stay at home. Jake and his friend are now living happily together in the home they love, and feeling more independent than ever.