At the age of four Pete was hit by a falling roof tile in his school playground, causing a penetrating head wound and depressed skull fracture.
He was taken to the surgical ward of his local hospital and remained unconscious for five days, subsequently being transferred to a children’s hospital. He remained in a coma for a further seven days and was then discharged home 10 days later.
Pete returned to school two months after his injury, attending for three to four days per week, but he exhibited verbal and physical aggression and began suffering from seizures, resulting in his transfer to a specialist school. During the next 10 years he moved to two further specialist schools, where he struggled with rules and boundaries, keeping to tasks and maintaining concentration, as well as behavioural management.
He was assessed at a rehabilitation centre for three months when he was 15, and spent the following three years living in supported accommodation before moving to a residential home as a tenant.
Why Pete came to St Andrew's
Pete's aggressive behaviour increased, combined with self-harm, culminating in aggressive episodes with other residents and ultimately with the police. He was given an 18-month suspended sentence for affray and was admitted on an informal basis to St Andrew’s when he was 21.
Pete first came to the adult admissions ward. Therapy included a number of different behavioural management techniques and enforcers. He built strong relationships with some staff members who were very effective in removing him from aggressive episodes and de-escalating him. Where previously triggers may have required two-hour de-escalations, with the appropriate therapies and programmes Pete turned into a different person.
He next moved to a locked brain injury ward at St Andrew’s. A less restrictive, different environment was a measured risk and part of a collaboration with Pete to develop a structured day and a degree of normalcy. Pete was central to developing his own risk management programme. He was still experiencing periods of violent outburst but agreed with the staff about the best way to intervene and when. He was able to control his emotions, and outbursts became less frequent and less violent. With the reduced outbursts also came a reduction in his self-loathing and subsequent self-harming.
Getting used to living in the community
Pete recently moved to Berkley Lodge, our transitional living unit. The process of engaging in community living was initially slow. The challenge was overcoming his fear of failure by building in support and reassurance to help him develop, with lots of coaxing and encouragement.
Since moving, Pete has thrived; he does jobs in the house, including cooking, cleaning and mowing, and has become very independent. He goes to town and runs errands when he can. He has also been able to travel home, initially for one or two nights but building up to much longer visits.
He even travelled abroad for two weeks on a family holiday without any incidents.
He is being the uncle that he had wanted to be and re-engaging in family life. At St Andrew’s he is currently working on ‘where I was versus where I am now’. St Andrew’s and Pete are together reviewing his next step to independent living.