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Category: Case Studies

Case Study: Mental health and safeguarding

VOICES case study 8
In October 2018, VOICES received a referral from the social work team at the Meir Hub to work together on a case for a Mrs B who had been a long-term client. Mrs B had been known to the team for several years and has a long-term history of mental health issues. Mrs B believes that meteor strikes were imminent on earth and this would result in the end of the world. As a result, she was preparing for this by storing old stagnant water, food, clothes, blankets etc. She had therefore been referred to the social work team by a housing officer at her local authority because he’d been unable to get her to declutter her house to complete the relevant gas safety and electrical tests. Furthermore, Mrs B had been taken ill and was admitted into hospital. Following her discharge from hospital she went to live with a family member who was alcohol dependent and in very low mood. This meant they were unable to care for her and then began to financially take advantage. VOICES received a call from Mrs B asking for help to remove her from her family members house because of this, and so worked with the… Continue Reading

Universal Credit: Applying for alternative payment arrangements

VOICES case study 7
Following the introduction of Universal Credit (UC), standard practice is to pay claimants their benefit once a month, compared to the old-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), where claimants were paid on a fortnightly basis. According to the Gov.uk website, ‘you can claim UC if you have a health condition or disability which prevents you from working or limits the amount of work you can do. UC provides you with a simple system of financial and work-related support’. However, a case of a gentleman I supported to claim UC found managing his UC payments extremely difficult, mainly due to his lack of insight into budgeting his money and his struggles with accessing his online account. After getting his payment, the customer would use this to top up his pre-payment utilities. However, after a few days, the customer was left with no money to fund his pre-payment utilities, so he was left without electricity or gas for weeks, until his next payment. The gentleman had been used to being paid fortnightly and has never had any budgeting support throughout his life, and also has poor tenancy management skills due to his needs.   Alternative payment arrangements (APA’s)- These exist to help those at… Continue Reading

Alcohol use or brain injury?

VOICES case study 6
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of customer   Mark* has a long history of substance misuse, homelessness, mental health and offending. He suffered a cardiac arrest and was in a coma for several months through misusing Mamba. Sadly, the long-term damage from the cardiac arrest was Hypoxic Brain Trauma due to lack of oxygen to the brain. Mark remained in hospital in the Mental Health Unit for rehabilitation due to struggles with his speech and mobility. From here he was discharged to a local hostel as social care deemed him to not have acute housing needs. At this point, Mark still had limited mobility as well as poor mental health in relation to the brain injury.   A local hostel referred Mark to VOICES due to struggling with his care needs and difficulties in managing his behaviour. They had referred him to Social Care but again had not succeeded. When VOICES assessed Mark, it became clear that he had care and support needs and therefore qualified for Social Care input. His Service Coordinator again referred the case to Social Care and with much hesitation, they agreed to come to the hostel to assess.   During the assessment, the Social Worker focused mainly on… Continue Reading

Smiling Depression

VOICES case study 5
Names have been changed to protect identity.   Smiling Depression is a term for someone living with depression on the inside, while appearing perfectly happy or content on the outside. Unfortunately, this was all too true for Dave.   In late 2018 I was met with a beaming smile, strong handshake and a what seemed like a happy go lucky personality. The 1-hour conversation that followed consisted of me trying to gain his trust and then a powerful statement from him, “I need help”. Dave was residing in temporary accommodation and had been for a few months. In this time, he had built up good relationships with other residents and referred to a few of them as good friends and family, it was clear that he was very well thought of. My immediate thought was one of concern, as most of these ‘good friends’ were dealing with their own problems and poor mental health. During my next chat with Dave he managed to open up to me and went on to discuss his real family, plus reasons why he did not see many of them. It became apparent that behind the smile, Dave was struggling quite badly with his mental health and he did not want… Continue Reading

The importance of appropriate assessment

VOICES case study 4
I have supported a client for the past fifteen months who has lived in independent accommodation for around 20 years and has their own mortgage. My client has struggled to maintain their property since a family bereavement. Family members were responsible for all aspects of the property, as well as assisting my client greatly, to complete all activity of daily living tasks. This would include managing finances, cleaning, shopping and cooking. It became apparent that since the recent bereavement my client had accrued large sums of debt, and as a result, was in the process of having their home repossessed. There was also significant risk of exploitation due to vulnerabilities and a diagnosis of Autism. The current living environment was extremely cluttered and unhygienic; the house was dirty and there was a strong odour throughout. My client also has a dog and acknowledges having difficulties maintaining their home unassisted. My client is extremely vulnerable and there have been numerous occasions, where exploitation has occurred, resulting in abuse. For example, my client has had their mobile phone and other high value items taken by people that my client would perceive as being ‘friends’. My client had a diagnosis of dyscalculia, which caused great difficulty… Continue Reading

Case Study: Universal Credit – A simple process for people experiencing multiple needs?

VOICES case study 03
Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit that has recently started to be rolled out nationwide, the aim to replace 6 existing means tested benefits. According to the Gov.uk website, ‘you can claim UC if you have a health condition or disability which prevents you from working or limits the amount of work you can do. UC provides you with a simple system of financial and work-related support.’   I have been supporting a customer to apply for UC following their release from prison. The customer has found the process to be difficult, and not simple as explained.   Step one: Initial online claim I supported the customer to attend the Job centre on the day of prison release and supported him to complete the initial claim online. The customer was faced with many barriers, the first one being completing the address field. The customer was homeless and tried to type in ‘no fixed address’. The system would not accept this as it wanted a valid post code. The customer had to use one of his support service’s office address before he could proceed with the application. The next barrier was completing the email address field. The customer did not have an email address and… Continue Reading

Case Study: Housing First

VOICES case study 02
Transcribed from audio recording   So, you gave me some great news yesterday, that you were approved for a property through a private landlord. What were some of the struggles that you faced with the administration process, as I know you had some issues with your benefits, tell us what happened there   Yea, I gave them my benefits letter, but it had run out and I had to get a new one. Once I’d got that they could process it then.   OK, and I know one of the issues you had was not having much ID, was that something you’ve faced a lot dealing with other agents/agencies when you’ve been applying for properties?   Yea, all the time.   So what ID did you use this time?   Well they wanted photo ID, but I told them I haven’t got it, so they just accepted my birth certificate and a benefits letter.   Throughout the application process, how were you liaising with the letting agents?   Just all through e-mails, it was just direct answers and questions through e-mails.   Did you find that an easy process?   Yea.   Did you set up an e-mail address specifically for this or did you already have one?   I already had one.   I know that you intend to keep your new property safe, how… Continue Reading

Is out of the area accommodation a reasonable offer?

VOICES case study 2
Homelessness in Stoke-On-Trent is on the rise.  Even when you take into account homeless shelters, hostels, supported housing, council housing, social housing, and private rented properties, there is not enough accommodation available for everyone who presents as homeless. People who have been entrenched rough sleepers for many years, who have had regular, short stints in accommodation, but have lost this accommodation for some reason. Often the reasons can be traced back to poor mental health, inability to maintain a tenancy, lack of support, or offending and re-offending.  One solution being offered by Local Authorities that I have experienced when providing support to people presenting as homeless is an offer of accommodation out of the area. This is usually offered when there is no space at local hostels or night shelters or the customer is being refused access to these.   Service Co-ordinator Rachael Quarmby discusses a typical example and questions whether this is sometimes merely the least worst option.   A woman presented as homeless after being evicted from her property.  She was assessed as not being vulnerable compared to an ‘ordinary person’.  This was despite a history of substance use and mental health difficulties. She was offered out of area accommodation and advised… Continue Reading

Case study: Barriers to healthcare [Addiction]

VOICES case study 01
Transcribed from sound recording   Can you explain what stops you going to hospital to seek treatment?   Basically, I’m still abusing drugs, and they won’t help me, as soon as they know I’m rattling they won’t give me anything to help me out, so I sign myself out and come home   OK, so you won’t go to the hospital because you’re rattling, I know that you recently went to the hospital to seek treatment, what finally pushed you to get medical help, what happened?   My health was deteriorating, yea, more and more wasn’t it, I needed hospital treatment, so I had to go up there, but then I had to lie and say I’m an ex user, I’m not using still. After five days, after they’ve read my file, they came to me asking if I was using, I said I was an ex user and I’m not using, only a bit of weed and drink. Can you detox off the drink they said to me, no I said, I’ve done it now, I’ve been in 5 days, yea, they said OK, the morphine injections that you’re on, for your leg, this time, this will help you (an alternative pain killer?) help me with what?… Continue Reading

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