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Case Studies



Positive risk taking & promoting sexual safety through empowerment

Living with a learning disability can be challenging, especially when you want to develop a relationship. People, including social care staff, must be kept safe from sexual harm and abuse. However, historically within social care, there has been a focus on the protection of people as a solution to keeping them safe. These measures have included preventing the development of relationships and the segregation of sexes, resulting in people being denied their human right to have sex and develop intimate relationships.

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Protecting people from sexual abuse is very important, in particular where people have: a limited ability to protect themselves physically and emotionally or are unable to articulate their concerns and worries or feel they are not listened to. However, to decrease the likelihood of people being sexually abused and to increase opportunities for people to have safe and positive relationships, CSS focus on promoting relationships and sexuality through empowerment. This includes facilitating environments, developing skills and opportunities which enable relationships to flourish.

One individual who lives within a supported living house who is very independent met someone, although didn’t know much about him. They started meeting each other and the relationship developed very quickly. This caused concern from the family and within the staff team. Following an incident which the individual disclosed information of concern a safeguarding alert was raised. 

What we did

We liaised with social services to see if we could identify the other person and to see if he also had a disability.  The house manager worked closely with the individual to ensure they knew they would be supported to make their own decisions.  They discussed the individual’s knowledge around how to stay safe within relationships and their understanding around sexual activity.  It was evident that the individual lacked full knowledge around how to protect themselves. CSS partnered with Lead the way and the local NHS sexual health lead.  Interactive workshops were developed and the individual attended and found them extremely useful, they covered, sex and the law, contraception, healthy relationships and sexually transmitted diseases.   We also worked with the social worker and identified who the other individual was.  They also had a learning disability and was supported locally by a different provider.  With the permission of the individuals, both providers linked together to develop a managed way to enable the pair to develop their relationship slowly and safely.  This was during the COVID- 19 pandemic when some restrictions were still in place so other challenges had to be overcome such as meeting outside of the supported living house.  Both individuals contributed and were at the centre of the decision making process.

The things that were implemented: 

  • We used the infection control grant to purchase a gazebo, this enabled the pair to eat together in the garden and spend quality time privately to get to know each other, whilst staff were still around.

  • We supported the pair to go on date nights

  • Both providers had regular contact with each other and we set boundaries in line with the COVID-19 restrictions.  This ensured the pair were able to develop their relationships, whilst reducing the risk of COVID – 19 transmission.

  • We had regular contact with the individual’s family and with the individuals permission we shared the things we had put in place to support the relationship in a safe way.

What difference it made

The individual was empowered to explore and develop the relationship, knowing they were listened to and supported at each step.  This developed the individual’s confidence to take control of the relationship.


What we learnt 

A person centred approach to every situation is crucial, also gaining the trust of the individual and them knowing that they are at the centre of any decision making process and the support we offer is always in their best interest.



The challenges of shielding and lockdown in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted everyone in a number of different ways.  Individuals who thrive on interaction with others and having set routines were particularly affected, especially when everything changed, and some individuals were asked to shield by the government.

This happened to CR and after a few weeks it was evident that the isolation was taking its toll on her mental health. CR’s anxiety was heightened, and she started isolating herself in bedroom, she was self-harming lower legs, targeting individuals within her home (verbally), she has William Syndrome and her obsessive compulsions were becoming increasingly apparent.  She was obsessing around what people within the house were doing, for example what they were cooking for tea etc.  Staff tried hard to engage her in lots of different activities within the supported living setting, this helped but she really missed her daily structure and her friends from day services.

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What we did

  • Staff held a tenants meeting and introduced more daily structure within the house that mirrored activities that would have been carried out within the day services setting.

  • The CSS day service stay at home but stay connected face group was launched.  This face book group enabled CR to join in on the virtual day services activities.  She was able to connect with her friends and whilst staying safe at home and she was able to participate in the activities she loved.  This included baking, Zumba, crafts and karaoke.

  • CR also loves animals and we know that talking about them or seeing them always cheers CR up.  The managers sent messages directly to Caitlin and showed her their pets, we ensured she had a post a day to make her day. We also used a talking pet app to make the messages fun.

What difference it made

CR responded really well and she started to enjoy getting up on a morning and taking part in activities.  Staff noticed a huge difference in her mood and behaviour, she was smiling again and despite shielding she actually felt connected to the outside world.


What we learnt

A person centred approach to every situation is crucial and even the small things can have a huge impact on the individual. Often it’s not the support that’s provided, it’s how the support is provided that makes the difference.

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Supporting independence around medication

Accepting support from others can be very frustrating for people living with a disability.  Having independence in various aspects of your live can build confidence and self-esteem.  Our core values provide the foundation for us to assess every individual situation, enabling us to look for ways to turn challenges into positive outcomes.

One individual who is registered blind and keen to retain his independence became frustrated as he would forget to take his medication, drop medication and lose various tablets on a regular basis. 

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What we did

The supported living house manager looked at various options to ensure his medication was stored and administered safely.  The individual was consulted throughout the whole process, ensuring he was at the centre of the decision making process.

The options considered were: 

  • Staff take full responsibility for the ordering, storing and administration of the individual’s medication, this would involve watching the individual take the medication to ensure none were lost.

  • Source a timed medication dispenser to enable the individual to manage his own medication.  This enabled him keep hold of his medication and a alarm would remind him to take his medication at the set intervals.  This was the preferred least restrictive option. 


What difference it made

The individual was empowered to take responsibility for his own medication and to retain his independence which helped with his own self esteem.


What we learnt

A person centred approach to every situation is crucial and even the small things can have a huge impact on the individual. Often, it’s not the support that’s provided, it’s how the support is provided that makes the difference.


The individual says: ‘Having full control of my medication is much better, I am not reliant on staff giving me my medication, I am totally independent’. 

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