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Emily is a 32-year-old woman who has a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Emily initially came to Heatherwood Court hospital and was admitted to the low secure ward, but was moved to locked rehabilitation following a series of self-harm behaviours.

What did Emily and her Commissioners want to achieve?

As a team, staff, commissioners, Emily and her family agreed a set of goals:

  • To build a therapeutic relationship with Emily
  • To support Emily to engage in educational activities
  • To facilitate Emily’s passion for Art
  • To support Emily to achieve employment
  • To step down from a low secure unit into a community home

What did we do to achieve these goals?

Prior to Heatherwood Court, Emily had achieved Degrees in Fine Art and Photography, so the Life Skills Team used this interest as a therapeutic ‘get in’ which would also give them the opportunity to build a relationship with her.

Emily took part in an hour-long art session on a weekly basis to build her relationships with the staff team and engaged extremely well.

Emily clearly displayed a high level of skill, so the team introduced her to the Koestler Award, which is a charity that helps ex-offenders, secure patients and detainees in the UK to express themselves creatively. Emily entered the competition and stepped her weekly art sessions up to twice a week, her attitude transformed immediately as she felt supported and creatively fulfilled.

What were the outcomes for Emily?

Emily’s award-entry painting was chosen to advertise the Koestler Awards and was purchased by an external buyer. Emily began to use art as a gateway to positive thinking and her confidence developed greatly. She painted the murals around Heatherwood Court, the shop in the hub on the ground floor and she designed and painted the motivational road on the wall in the gym.

Emily’s artwork was exhibited at the Koestler Awards in London in South Bank and a further two paintings were purchased. She travelled to London and was able to explain where she took inspiration from and how she has used art as a therapeutic gateway to positive thinking.

Emily’s progression has resulted in a dramatic decrease of self-harm related issues and her understanding of her condition has improved as well as her confidence, this has enabled her to rediscover her skills set and work on achieving her career aspirations.

Emily completed a voluntary work placement at a local art centre that works closely with children and adults with learning disabilities. This opportunity led her to meet with a graphic design company who offered Emily a work experience placement.

Emily’s new found confidence allowed her to obtain unescorted leave and display that she could independently cope within a less restrictive environment with no issues regarding her mental health.

Emily initially transitioned into an Ocean Community Services supported-living home where she settled in well and started studying for her MA in Fine Art.  She has now moved on again and is living in her own flat nearer family in England with a support package from her local team.

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