What a difference it has made

For those of us that have children that are going to need support throughout their lives it is sometimes very difficult to know how to make the right decisions for them. Having gone through the structured special school system from the age of 2 through to 18 our daughter benefitted from an excellent education. She then attended a residential college for four years.

We then had to make the big decision. What do we do now? Does she return home or do we consider other options? The other matter to throw into the mix was that at 18 she became an adult and that changes things dramatically.

It was clear that she, like others of her age who do college / university that she did not want to return home to Mum and Dad and so we began the process of applying for her to move into Supported Living. This was arranged through the Local Authority but after a while, unfortunately, the overall quality of the support she was receiving and her life experiences were not that good.

With the introduction of the Care Act, my daughter and others in her position are now entitled to appoint their own Care / Support providers and so we thought that rather than simply accept whoever the Local Authority deemed appropriate – i.e. the cheapest, we would go and find our own.

I had in the back of my mind an organisation that I had come across in the past and so I found their details and got in touch. A meeting was arranged with Jemma and Clodagh and they introduced themselves and described what they did and how they did it. After the meeting they sent us references and we spoke to the families of those they support who all spoke very highly of the organisation, Ordinary Lifestyles, and all of the people that work there. At this point there was absolutely no doubt in our minds that if our daughter had the capacity to make life choices then she would choose Ordinary Lifestyles to support her. The families of her two housemates agreed and together we approached the Local Authority to request that Ordinary Lifestyles be appointed as our children’s support provider. Eventually and after many meetings and discussions with the Local Authority over a period of about 12 months Ordinary Lifestyles were appointed.

What a difference this made. Not only for the guys but also for the staff team who transferred from the previous provider. Plans were quickly put in place, assessments undertaken, care plans updated and everyone quickly got to know each other. My daughter and her housemates now lead very active lives, attending events on most days of the week, meeting friends, going on holiday etc. and as well as the” fun” side of life they have learned more of the skills needed to look after themselves, overseen by their support team.

From the beginning, when she had completed her formal education, this was our vision of the kind of life we wanted for her. Not only has her overall development improved, her confidence levels are much higher than they ever were and even her communication skills have exceeded our expectations.

They say that any organisation is only as good as it’s people and the team at Ordinary Lifestyles prove this point. A small management team looks after the day to day running of the organisation as well as being very hands on with the support of the local teams in the houses. The support teams are valued and many have been with them for a long time – some in excess of 20 years! This not only demonstrates that it is a good place to work but it gives stability and continuity to those that are being supported. Very important.

Our views are shared with the families of our daughter’s housemates who, like us, have experienced the good and the bad of Supported Living. This is the great!