There are many things in life that many of us take for granted: getting dressed in the morning, doing the household chores, having a paid job.
And for Zoe, who has autism and mental health problems and can display behaviour that challenges those around her, often simple household tasks can become overwhelming.
One such task was doing her washing – often, she would put it in in the morning and forget to take it out, or leave it on the side and put the tumble drier on empty for hours.
Dimensions has been supporting Zoe since 2014. She lives in her own bungalow, with a consistent and familiar staff team. But despite this, she hates anyone else touching her clothes.
Forgetting to do her washing properly causes her great frustration and can sometimes escalate to instances of challenging behaviour.
But with a little “thinking outside the box” by Zoe’s staff team she has, over time, learnt a unique way to remember the processes involved when it comes to doing the laundry and completing the task from start to finish.
Zoe is very reward-focussed so Alice, a member of her staff team, came up with the innovative idea of a ‘laundry bank.’
The laundry bank is a toy washing machine which can be filled with tokens. Every time Zoe completes a stage of her washing, she gets a token. If she completes all stages by 6pm each day, she gets a prize.
The team even write her letters from the “Laundry Bank Manager” congratulating her for such a job well done which are always received with a great deal of excitement from Zoe.
This reward-driven approach using positive reinforcement has worked wonders for Zoe. Since it was introduced she has completed her laundry every day with little or no prompting.
Learning how to complete this task has also had a positive knock-on effect on her ability to do other household tasks independently and enjoy a better quality of life at home.
This is just one example of how hard her staff team have worked to make her life that little bit easier and as a result of this and other interventions, she is much calmer and her behaviours are reducing all the time.
Indeed, instances of challenging behaviour have reduced from every few days to just five in the past 18 months and she is markedly better at calming herself down before incidents occur.
As the laundry bank proves, sometimes a little creativity can really make all the difference.