A. is a 65 year old man who has struggled with severe mental health issues and alcoholism for many years prior to moving to Sylvester House in 2012. When he first arrived at Sylvester House, A. was unkempt, with long, matted hair, bushy beard and eyebrows and had seemingly worn the same dirty clothes for years. A. was also consuming nine cans of strong 8% lager every day and had a history of being aggressive and violent towards his previous care home residents and staff. Being so severely intoxicated each and everyday, meant that A. was rarely able or willing to leave his flat and go out into the local community. He had no interest in the outside World and just wanted to be left alone in his flat to get drunk every day.
From day one, the staff team set about changing this bleak outlook for A., and positively engaged with him in order to make small changes each day. A. agreed to get his haircut and trim his beard and eyebrows at the barbers, and was taken out to buy new clothes, toiletries and food. A. was so visibly chuffed to purchase his very first pair of Nike Air trainers.
Key working sessions with A. would focus on helping him to manage his own finances better, as he was spending so much of his money on alcohol. These one to one sessions would also educate A. on the long-term health affects of alcohol abuse, reinforce the benefits of reducing his daily lager consumption. How his daily life will improve and how much better he will feel, as a result.
After one month, A. agreed to gradually reduce his lager consumption from nine to eight cans a day. After three months, he was down to seven cans and after eight months, had reduced his consumption to five cans a day.
Feeling so much less intoxicated everyday, A. was now able to go out and explore his local community. He became interested in feeding the local birds and ducks. Most days, he would buy bread and treats, stroll to the nearby London Fields and quietly sit in the park and feed the ducks. A. had also started swimming regularly at a leisure pool.
By 2014, A. had reduced his strong lager consumption to three cans daily, and then to only two cans daily by 2015. Since 2016, A. has been drinking one can of lager with his main meal every night and as a result is a dramatically changed man. A. now shows no signs of aggression or violence towards his fellow residents or staff. He keeps himself and his flat clean and tidy, and manages his personal finances.
In July 2017, Sylvester House staff organised a weeks holiday for six of the residents to Newquay in Cornwall. The weather was glorious and they all stayed in a nice lodge together, and had so much, fun at the golden sandy beach every day. They also visited the local aquarium, had daily picnics and boat trips to a small deserted island.
A.was on this trip and when he was handed his daily can of strong lager to have with his evening meal, A. responded, “ I feel good. I do not want any beer.”
All of the Sylvester House residents who were on this Cornwall trip have now decided that next year they want to go to Spain or France, and they have started actively planning and saving towards next year’s summer holiday.