Supporting Young Adults Through Change
A story by PLUS Forth Valley
Our project aimed supported young adults with disabilities through a personalised approach to access the community and develop life skills throughout the pandemic. Our main goal was to support our adults in rebuilding their confidence and helping them recreate the pathway to living their best lives.
What Supporting Young Adults Through Change did
Our project supported 12 young adults with disabilities for 3-hour fortnightly sessions. The project has varied however, with some benefitting more from shorter sessions but weekly to support increased consistency and routine and some being supported with one staff member and a peer and attending weekly. The adults were normally supported on a 1:1 basis by their allocated support worker. The aims and needs of each of our adults were assessed and discussed with their families to identify areas in which we could support them.
For example, a few of our adults used their creative breaks sessions to learn how to cook healthy meals preparing them for independent living. Our adults who participated in the project were known to PLUS as service users, through volunteering or having accessed our organisation in the past through child services.
The project ran through the pandemic, therefore originally started as online support. Our sessional staff members supported our adults via zoom, working on life skills within the home or utilising online resources. This also gave the opportunity for multiple adults to join the zoom call, giving them the opportunity for social interaction during lockdown. During the easing of restrictions, we were able to have our adults accessing our organisation facilities to work on their chosen goals.
We established a collaboration with our local salvation army where 2 of our adults renovated their garden area and planted fruit and vegetables to be used at their soup kitchen. This was a huge success within the project, and we were able to get some of our other adults involved too, pushing some of the adults out of their comfort zone to try something new.
This project not only benefited our adults in helping them re-adjust to post-covid life, but it also had a huge positive impact on their families. Families, many of whom are full time carers for our young adults benefited from the few hours of support each week, particularly during lockdown when they couldn’t leave their home.
What PLUS Forth Valley has learned
Partnership Working – By delivering this project, we were able to establish a great collaboration with the local salvation army. This highlighted the true benefits of collaborating with other charitable organisations within the community. This partnership has provided volunteer opportunities for 4 of our adults and has aided the success of this project.
Dealing with unexpected challenges– This project ran through the COVID-19 pandemic, the commencement being during lockdown. We were able to adapt our support session to being online due to implications caused by COVID-19. This was something that as an organisation we had never done before, so this was a learning curve for all staff involved. Staff were able to come up with new ways of supporting young people and preparing them for in person sessions as lockdown eased.
Targeting carers most in need of support– At the start of this project we identified young adults who accessed us in the past through child services (who were no longer funded as adults), adults who volunteered with PLUS and adults who had small care plans with us. We identified these adults and their families as those who would be most affected by the implications of COVID-19 pandemic.
How PLUS Forth Valley has benefitted from the funding
Through the Creative Breaks funding we have been able to establish a new partnership with the local Salvation Army. This has benefited our organisation greatly as it has opened doors to volunteering opportunities for our adults as well as collaboration opportunities for our other projects. Being able to be out in the community in a safe and secure outdoor space has been invaluable and a relationship which we will continue to support and nurture. The Creative Breaks funding has given us the opportunity to support young adults who would have not been able to access support. This has increased our capacity to support a wider group of adults within the Stirling community. This fund also encouraged us as an organisation to plan our adult support sessions in a more personalised manner for the young person. We have identified the benefits of having our adults self-evaluate after support sessions and enable them to set their own goals and outcomes when attending support sessions. This has also given us a structure for our adult life skills project we now run on a weekly basis. This project gave us the foundation to build this project and trial different event plans that we can now apply to our sessions. We have been able to upskill two sessional staff members to carry their skills forward from the creative breaks project onto the adult life skills project.
Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
We had very positive feedback from our parents and carers throughout the project, indicating this outcome was achieved. The few hours of support gave parents and carers a relief during long days of lockdown when they were unable to leave their home. This was advantageous to families in maintaining a positive relationship throughout lockdown, in particular, providing parents/carers with some respite while adults benefited from support.
A parent of one of our young adults benefits greatly from his short break fortnightly session. This parent is a full-time carer for her son and the creative break project allows her some relief to do her weekly food shop as her son doesn’t like supermarkets, which has always been a struggle for this family. The support our young adult has received has not only benefited him, but has also benefited his mum who has had a dedicated time to go for a food shop. During the young adults creative breaks sessions, his support worker has taken him and another young adult to the supermarkets to buy ingredients for baking. This involved pre-planning to create a list of items they required. The young person benefited from pictures of the items so he knew exactly what he was shopping for and this helped ensure he didn’t become overwhelmed. After several trips, our young adult is now much more comfortable with supermarket situations. We have supported mum to show her the best way to create a visual list so she can support her son if they were to go food shopping together. Mum has reported she has now been food shopping with her son twice and he has coped very well, making this an easier task for the family.
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
Continuous communication was maintained between families and support workers to ensure that we were able to support parents/carers with challenges their young adult was facing. We were able to agree with parents on key areas for the adults to work on which could be applied to their day to day lives.
A parent of one of our young adults supported through this project identified that she has struggled over the years to encourage her young adult to engage in household chores. She hopes that one day her son can live independently however when she has tried to teach him how to use household utilities and complete simple cleaning tasks, he has been very uninterested. During lockdown, as the family were all at home, this became a greater issue for the family, and this was an area of improvement identified for this young person. During the creative break support sessions, the support worker worked with the young adult via zoom to teach him how to independently make his bed, put on a wash and hang it up. The support worker created a simple visual board to clearly show each step of the process. During the easing of lockdown, this adult then attended our organisation facilities where his staff member then showed him how to do the dishes, make tea and coffee and simple meals like cooking pasta. His parents were very thankful for the support and emailed pictures of his progress within the house to his support worker. He now has the visual boards on his wall in his home which he follows each day. This has been beneficial for his family as he can now independently do his own washing and tidying, relieving his parents/carers of this task and promoting his own independence for the future.
Carers and the people they care for will have improved wellbeing.
Throughout the project, the adults progress was monitored and recorded, this included things like wellbeing, confidence and social interactions. As lockdown eased, adults were supported in order to increase their confidence in recessing the local community. Overall, adults were reported to have an improved mental wellbeing .
One of our young adults who was supported through this project was significantly impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, this young adult attended a variety of clubs and was very outgoing and sociable. However, lockdown had a negative impact on his confidence and social skills, resulting in him not wanting to leave the house when restrictions started to ease. This became an increasingly challenging situation for his family, particularly when his mum could no longer be there to support him as she returned to work post-covid. The creative breaks project helped him re-access the community. He originally began with planning sessions on where he was going to go, the bus routes he would take, how much it would cost etc. This then led to him carrying out the trips supported by his staff member, allowing him to rebuild the confidence he once had to use public transport and access the local community. Through months of work with his support worker, this young adult now independently uses public buses to travel to town. He has also successfully got a volunteer role within a local charity shop which he might not have been able to do without the support through this project.
Additional project outcome
Improved social circle and interactions for both young adult and carer outside of the home.
After lockdown restrictions eased, we established a collaboration with our local salvation army organisation where we supported some of our adults to volunteer in their shop and garden. A few of our adults worked together on a Thursday morning to help stock the charity shop, these young adults both have a great interest for fashion and have now established a friendship. Since the young adults met through the project, they now meet up independently out with PLUS. Another two of our adults volunteered within the garden of the salvation army. They completely renovated the garden and planted fruit and veg within the polytunnels. Once grown, this will be used as ingredients for the organisations daily soup kitchen. The two young adults have made some great relationships with the staff at the salvation army and are now supported every Monday to carry out gardening tasks at the venue. This has given the adults some stability in their routine and opened doors to volunteering opportunities. Parents and carers have also had the opportunity to speak regularly with the adult’s support worker who have provided support to the families throughout the pandemic.