Martha was referred to Shore House following an intentional overdose of prescription medication that nearly proved fatal, and which resulted in a hospital admission.

As Martha was too physically unwell to travel, the Shore House manager offered to conduct the initial assessment with her in hospital. Martha was offered a self-contained flat within Shore House and was subsequently discharged from hospital to Shore House with integrated support from an Occupational Therapist.

After a two-month period of abstinence Martha experienced difficulties with a friendship and began to use alcohol excessively. She sought support after an incident in which she had fallen from a chair and hurt her shoulder, subsequently disclosing to staff that the injury was caused by a ligature breaking whilst she was attempting to hang herself from a light fitting in her room. Staff provided intensive support to Martha around this difficult time and supported her to reflect on the link between her alcohol use and her suicidal thoughts and actions.

Shore House staff co-designed a plan with Martha whereby staff would undertake random bag checks when she returned to the building to ascertain whether she had bought alcohol; Martha felt that this boundary would help her to resist the urge to bring in alcohol, thereby avoiding the risk of becoming intoxicated and potentially harming herself. The bag checks also provided an opportunity for staff and Martha to discuss her thoughts and feelings if she did return with alcohol, so that support could be provided, and safety plans made, agreed and put into action.

The agreement supported Martha to remain abstinent from alcohol for two months and enjoy a period of increased stability and improved mental health. She said that the measures assisted her with managing the impulse to use alcohol and gave her control of how and when she received support, as well as a greater understanding of what keeps her well and what can make her feel unstable.

Martha had joined a voluntary dog-sitting group to provide her with some positive activity and asked the Shore House manager whether the dog would be able to come into the project. The manager agreed to this as an acknowledgement of the stability Martha had achieved and the positive steps she had made to improve her wellbeing.

The dog now visits Shore House several times a week whilst her owners are at work, which has given Martha an improved sense of wellbeing, responsibility and a fresh motivation for continuing in her recovery. She has also started volunteering at a local charity shop, which further contributes to her weekly structure and feelings of self-worth.

Martha’s mental and physical health has improved greatly, and she recently took a trip abroad to celebrate her birthday, enjoying a five day break in the sunshine and returning with a continued commitment to her health and wellbeing.
Note: The life stories shared in these case studies are real. The names and photos have been changed to protect identities.

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