She also thought she had to eat meals in her bedroom. Like many people with learning disabilities Rita had spent a lot of her life in group care homes. While a huge improvement on the hospitals they replaced, group care homes are far from ideal. Most of us live either with partners or family, or on our own, but in a care home you find yourself sharing with people you might not know very well, or even like that much. And their needs and wants and tastes might be very different from yours. Which is why Rita thought she needed permission to watch TV.
“Having my own flat gives me much needed privacy and it’s a safe place I can call home.” Neil Ascough
We supported Rita to move into her own flat in May 2015. It was a huge change for her, and at first we had to keep reassuring her that the flat is hers and she can use all the rooms and facilities whenever she wants. To enable her to feel more comfortable we supported her to personalise the flat, buying accessories and decorating it to her own taste – just like anyone would when they move into a new place. She now takes great pride in her home, and having her own space has helped her become more confident and independent. She’s made a lot of new friends, especially at her local church, where she volunteers at the lunch soup kitchen.
It’s been a similar story for Neil:
One of our subsidiary organisations, the Lady Verdin Trust, has been supporting people to live in flats for many years. They’ve found that good planning, close attention to what people are saying, and flexibility are keys to success.
“I have lived in my own flat since 2011. Before that I lived in a residential home for people with learning disabilities. Living in the home made me feel depressed and lonely. I didn’t see my family often. If we went out I had to go with other people and I was restricted to returning to the home with the rest of the party. People I lived alongside had different needs to me – some more profound. This led to difficulties in communication.
My social worker recognised I could benefit from more independence and they supported me to look for a self-contained flat in a supported living setting. To prepare me to move into my own flat I attended cookery and home skill sessions at my local resource centre, I enjoyed the cooking and home skill-sessions and my confidence in these areas increased.
Living in my own flat means I can come and go when I want – nobody tells me what to do. I have my own key. My social life has improved. I see my family more often as I can visit them independently and my self-confidence when out and about has improved.”
Ian had tried living in a flat on his own before but it didn’t work out. When he first came to the Lady Verdin Trust he lived in a residential home with 24 hour support. But, he says:
"I didn't like living with other people as it was too noisy and I always wanted to live on my own."
Through a tailored, structured action plan, we supported and encouraged Ian to develop the confidence and skills he needed to live alone. He is now settled in a flat of his own. As well as a phone call every night, Ian receives up to five hours support a day, including help with shopping, money, tidying up and cooking.
We’ve supported Adrian, who is autistic, since 1992, when he was in his early twenties. Initially he lived in a group home, but over time we realised he may like to live on his own. Working with his father, we began to explore with Adrian how this might happen.
Finding a suitable property was a long process but with the support of staff and his dad, Adrian applied to Cheshire HomeChoice to find suitable accommodation. After almost a year after Adrian was offered a bungalow in Sandbach, owned by Dane Housing. Adrian visited with his dad and support team, and all agreed the bungalow was perfect for him.
A lot of planning went into the move. Adrian had lived in the care home for 20 years so this was going to be a big change. The staff team ensured that the bungalow was laid out in a similar way to the home he was familiar with so that Adrian could adapt to the move easily. Which he did. Adrian is now settled in the bungalow. With support from his staff he decorated it, and paid particular attention to landscaping the garden – sitting out there in the sun is one of his favourite pastimes.
Adrian’s dad says:
“I’m very pleased with the way Adrian has settled in. He’s doing a lot more now than he ever did. It’s absolutely great that he’s got his own place and he gets on with his previous housemates much better now. He looks forward to seeing them when they meet up for meals out and at the disco. I think everyone has done a great job.”
We are committed to offering people the chance to live independently in flats if they choose. This isn’t just an option for the most able people. There are many benefits:
Compared to a group home, if you live in a flat:
Supporting people in flats provides a more normative living experience. As the stories on this page demonstrate, many people we support thrive when living on their own.
But as well as improvements in service quality flats can be significantly cheaper than group support. For example, in three dispersed three bedroom shared houses where people require night time support, commissioners would have to pay for three waking nights and three sleep-in staff. However the same nine people living in a block of flats would only require one sleep-in and one waking night staff between them.
Loss of income through voids is also minimised as vacancies in individual flats are popular and are generally filled straightaway, compared to shared housing vacancies, which are increasingly hard to fill. And there is no complex, time-consuming matching processes.
If you are interested in living in a flat, or if you work for a local authority and would like to discuss Choice Support developing flats in your area, please get in touch.
Tags in this document: Housing
or telephone: 0207 261 4100