Paul is a man in his mid-twenties with care and support needs who lives in a residential care setting. A whistle blower raised concerns about a significant culture of abuse and neglect at the setting. It was alleged that a staff member had physically abused Paul and also that Paul may have attempted to harm himself. A safeguarding enquiry was opened and Paul was referred for advocacy to support him to be involved in the enquiry.

Paul has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities. He is able to communicate using key words, Makaton and signs. He can be very anxious about meeting new people and Paul was anxious when first meeting his advocate Henry. Paul hid from Henry when he tried to introduce himself for the first time.

Henry allowed Paul time to get used to him by adopting a low profile approach during initial meetings; observing from a distance and acknowledging Paul but not attempting to engage with him as this may have heightened his anxiety. This approach allowed Paul to get used to Henry being in his home environment. After a while Paul began making eye contact with, and greeting Henry and eventually he allowed Henry to approach and talk to him.

By taking the time to get to know Paul and learning how to communicate with him (and also by speaking to professionals involved in Paul’s care and reviewing records) Henry was able to find out what things were important to Paul and which of his care and support needs were not being met.

Henry referred Paul to a number of support services and put forward a report about Paul and his needs, wishes and feelings. Paul’s support plans are being rewritten to reflect his needs and to be more person centred. Paul is now being supported by a specialist nurse to look at support and environmental changes that would benefit him and provide him with much needed sensory stimulation.

Paul was supported by Henry to engage with the safeguarding process which ensured his views, wishes and feelings were heard and his needs considered. Having an advocate to support him made sure the safeguarding process was effective for Paul and resulted in real and positive change to the quality of the care and support Paul was receiving.