Sam's story

When Sam shops, he uses pictures to communicate what he wants to buy. In the past, he became increasingly frustrated at not being able express himself. The turning point came when Yarrow staff decided to show him pictures and sounds on a computer. They grabbed his attention and Sam now uses these pictures to let staff know what he likes and dislikes and as such has far greater control over his life.

More recently, Sam has started using still pictures too and with the change, his true personality - relaxed, assertive and intelligent – has shone through. He now acts as a consultant and trainer to social workers and occupational therapists.

Diane’s story

Diane’s face lights up at the mention of a walk round the park or visiting the local café, shopping mall or leisure centre. She not only enjoys the exercise, but the socialising aspect too. Given that Diane, who does not use speech, had no desire to go anywhere and had a weight problem, this is a huge achievement.

Helping her on this journey has been Yarrow’s healthy living plan, coupled with multimedia profiling. The profile – which contains computer images of some of Diane’s activities, as well as potential new activities – means she now makes personal choices about everyday life. Most recently, she used it to get involved in booking holidays in Lyme Regis and Hastings.

Maggie's story

Maggie has taken ownership of her own life, identifying likes, dislikes and triggers, and taking control of her own feelings and behaviours. This is a far cry from when Maggie came to Yarrow many years ago. Back then, she posed a risk to herself and others and found it hard to express her feelings.  But Maggie collaborated with our staff team, the Community Specialist Team and her father to develop a support plan.  Critical to its success was the appointment of a key worker with experience in mental health problems and regular risk assessments and support plan review meetings.

Craig's story

Craig enjoys visiting his local pub, where he is able to tell people what he wants to eat or drink. This is largely thanks to pub staff having worked with Yarrow to translate their menu into pictures that Craig – who does not use speech - understands. Staff have also been trained by Yarrow in the use of Makaton.

Craig’s own communication skills have improved drastically too, especially since Yarrow made some recordings of people he knows saying words and attaching them to pictures and objects on his ‘communication’ board.

Gaynor’s story

Gaynor’s regained self-confidence and decreased episodes of depression have led to a reduction in her medication and a greater ability to cope with anxiety. In addition, Gaynor has improved her life skills, is able to use money and engage in a variety of social acitivities.

Previously, Gaynor’s inability to comprehend large amounts of information often left her frustrated and she would challenge those around her, leading to a breakdown in relationships and social oportunities. But Yarrow, in partnership with Gaynor and other professionals, developed a support plan and a timetable to structure her day. Gaynor could understand its pictorial format and clear information so she was soon able to choose pictures to express her likes and dislikes.

Kate's Story

A paper-based ‘Person Centred Planning’ document would be of little use to Kate, who relies on objects and sensations to communicate. To this end, Yarrow produced a miniature model of Kate’s home, which Kate helped to decorate – revealing what she’d like her actual home to look like. She pointed at the tasks she’d like to get involved in to achieve this – for example, painting walls – and in turn she used the model to reveal other changes she’d like to make to her home and in turn, her life.

Kate’s latest ventures include offering her services to a voluntary organisation and voicing her opinions at a large meeting.  She thought she might find the latter intimidating but she didn’t want to leave.

Carlos's story

Nobody loves being out in his car more than Carlos. It’s the freedom that he most treasures, with favourite destinations including Buckingham Palace and Heathrow Airport. More recently, Carlos has also used the car to go on holiday to both Cornwall and Ireland. Prior to Carlos getting the car via the Motability Scheme, he seldom went out and became increasingly introverted.

The car, which Yarrow staff drive for Carlos, became somewhere he felt safe and empowered and today, he is confident, assertive and happy. He has even come off the medication he was taking for depression. Such is his love for his car that he sometimes uses it just to listen to music.