PA support – a life changing experience for a deaf BSL user

Here’s the first one of many case studies coming from AD Community, highlighting how our PA support impacts on the lives of our service users.

Jean Robert Van Oosten was referred by Derbyshire Social Care Services back in November 2015, as he required a PA support service. Jean is a young, male, BSL (British Sign Language) user who attended the Royal School for the Deaf Derby before moving on to study part time at the Roundhouse, Derby College.  He is a determined and confident character who describes himself as always being funny and has a passion for teasing people, a lot.

Jean lives next to his parent’s house, in an annex that was built by his parents as a means of supporting him to gain independent living skills.  The annex has its own kitchen, toilet and living room and Jean thoroughly enjoys having his own space.  However, he has always felt isolated, due to his home being located in the heart of the countryside, with limited bus routes and services proving difficult to access.

As a result of his physical disabilities and deafness, Jean is described as having complex needs although he has never let this stop him in his desire to achieve.  Prior to receiving PA support, he felt lonely and identified that he wanted to meet more people, further develop and learn new life skills whilst also wanting to deal with his own correspondence; a task which his parents had been assisting with, and on whom he relied heavily. Simultaneously, Jean’s mother was diagnosed with an incurable and terminal health condition, a particularly difficult time for Jean, but the PAs were able to offer peer support and helped him to deal with his mother’s subsequent death; a very sad loss which greatly impacted upon him.

Through PA support, Jean has grown in confidence, now attending social events such as youth clubs and archery classes, as well as going out into the community.  He has a great rapport with several of his PAs, which is based on trust, and he feels able to confide in them.  He is determined to be as independent as possible and enjoys having control over his life.  He is a genuinely sociable young man who enjoys being with other people who share the same first language, BSL. He will always try to make himself understood when with people who are unable to communicate using BSL, although at times he finds this frustrating.

Jean continues to enjoy receiving PA support on a weekly basis to attend activities whilst maintaining regular peer support, and he is looking forward to a camping session with one of his PAs, which demonstrates considerable developments in Jean’s planning skills.

Jean’s Father’s comments:

“Jean is 19 years old, profoundly deaf, communicates via BSL and goes to College part-time. His mother used to be his main carer, but she died very recently which has had a big impact on him. AD came into place shortly before the diagnosis of Jean’s mum’s incurable disease. We worked together to set up a clear plan, to support Jean’s wish to become more independent in the areas of food/cooking, finance, health, benefits management, mobility and access to society/clubs of interest. The careful selection of PAs, all professional and fluent in BSL, has significantly improved Jean’s life and potential. He is much happier, getting to be more independent, looks to help others, survived his Mum’s death and has a clearer view of what to expect in life. It is a professional relationship, based on trust, with his PAs, with no debt of gratitude, and this improves his self-esteem, respecting his dignity as a disabled person. AD has been, and is, an essential component in Jean’s life.”

Social Worker’s comments:

“I want to say a big thank you, as I’m aware Jean has received a lot of support during the awful time of his mother’s death. I appreciate Mark (PA)’s assistance for Jean, encouraging him and supporting him to meet his needs.” 

If you would like to learn more about AD Community or to be referred to our service, please get in touch with us by email: community@actiondeafness.org.uk or call/text: 07528551162.