Oliver joined Dame Hannahs School in 2011 aged 13 before moving on to our Adult Services when he turned 18. He has a complex medical condition including quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, gastric problems and visual impairment. Oliver lives in the Mews with other adults with high dependency medical needs, including Zach, whom he knew at his previous school.
Before starting at Dame Hannahs, Oliver attended the West of England School but they could not meet his medical needs. He was then home schooled for four years until he was able to start at Dame Hannahs. His parents were always aware of Dame Hannahs, but it was too far away from Devon to their home in Somerset and harder for Oliver to attend the school by day. When he started at Dame Hannahs the head teacher was very helpful and flexible enabling Oliver to cope with a shorter school day.
Oliver loves spending time outdoors. He is happy spending time in the Mews garden as well as being part of the actual gardening. He also loves sailing. It is very therapeutic for him to be outside as he can feel the wind and listen to the noises and more often than not he lifts his head which is very rare. He can only manage short trips out in the minibus, but he loves walks into Ivybridge and experiencing the outside elements.
With his limited eyesight, the other senses are really important. Oliver loves listening to music as he is registered blind but has very good hearing. He loves touching and hearing animals and birds, and is mad about animals as his home is on a farm. And in the cooking sessions he loves the smell and touch of food and doing the tasting.
Oliver really enjoys time out of his wheelchair and the sense of freedom both in the hydrotherapy pool and in the sensory room. During these sessions he requires intensive interaction with someone who understands his needs. Postural management is particularly important for Oliver and he needs regular input from the physiotherapists in order to keep him comfortable, out of pain and out of hospital. In all activities he gets very easily fatigued and needs the appropriate stimulation.
He needs and likes structure with flexibility in his day so he enjoys structured activities and it is important that he is offered activities that suit him and that he is given choices. It is harder for Oliver to join in group activities and his complex medical and medication needs limit the number and type of activities he is able to do.
Oliver can manage social situations in moderation. The key is to know his core group of familiar people as he responds really well to them. If he is surrounded by too many unfamiliar voices he shuts down. He thrives off hearing familiar voices and movements and is visibly amused by some of the staff and other adults he knows and spends time with.
His communication skills are limited but he has a form of communication with the key people who understand him and know what to look out for. The help he has had with his feeding regime has been particularly helpful as the same dysphagia speech therapist has helped and monitored this ever since he started at Dame Hannahs.
Oliver’s mother Anna said:
“Dame Hannahs has changed our lives over the past 12 years. Knowing that Oliver is in an environment which offers 24 hour care and nursing input as well as on site therapy. It has allowed us to live a more normal life with our younger son and I have been able to work part-time. It means that when Oliver comes home once a month we are able to fully focus on him and can really enjoy our time with him. I visit him every Saturday so I feel that I can stay close to him and keep up to date with his progress. At Dame Hannahs Oliver is able to access good quality of life possible which is so important to us.”