Winnie spent her first six decades in institutional care. Her experiences there taught her to withdraw and not say a word (literally!) Her life has changed unimaginably in recent times since being introduced to Michelle, her citizen advocate.
Michelle visits regularly and takes Winnie out to lunch, widening her horizons with a variety of enjoyable activities.
Michelle discovered that Winnie has a small inheritance managed by the Public Trustee. As Winnie is in her mid 70s Michelle persuaded the Public Trustee that her money should be made available to her so she can finally enjoy life (previously impossible without the support of an advocate.)
Michelle takes Winnie shopping to select her own clothes. When first introduced, Winnie was dressed in the ill-fitting clothes of deceased residents. For the first time in her life Winnie has choices; where to go, what to eat, what to wear.
Michelle took her to a beachside cafe to celebrate Winnie’s birthday. Michelle had become used to chattering to Winnie and receiving no verbal response beyond nods and smiles. After lunch Michelle said to Winnie “What do you think? Would you like to stay longer or are you ready to go?” Michelle was astounded and thrilled to hear Winnie reply “I would like to stay.”
A whole sentence!!!
It is a challenge to capture, much less quantify, the specific outcomes achieved by Michelle’s involvement with Winnie but we believe that no other form of advocacy could have changed her life and increased her wellbeing so significantly after decades of neglect.