Updated: Mar 8
I want to share the story of Oliver’s journey into residential care to show other families who have grown up children with support needs, how positive the experience can be.
Oliver is non- verbal and communicates through using a combination of Makaton and his owns signs. It is easy to tell if he is happy or unhappy and can make his choices known when asked a direct question.
As many of you may have experienced, Oliver and his parents, Karen and Phil, had a difficult time with Oliver during the long months of isolation due to Covid-19. Oliver became overbearing with his mum, constantly seeking attention through negative actions until Karen felt that she was unable to cope any longer. Karen’s sheer desperation led her to phone the local Living Well Team and asked them to remove Oliver from the home environment. Karen was offered anti-depressants by her doctor, but this didn’t remove the root cause of Oliver’s behaviour.
Karen (and I) shed a few tears whilst she told their story, but it does have a happy ending so, please keep reading! She explained how desperately sad and guilty she felt about wanting Oliver to move out – such a difficult and important decision.
The process of Oliver moving into residential care took around 2 years. Initially, Karen and Phil felt that Oliver would benefit from supported living rather than residential care. The Living Well Team were supportive of the family but there were no opportunities for Oliver to move into supported living in the Nottinghamshire area. The couple wanted Oliver to be independent of them but also not be too far away so they could visit him frequently.
They instead decide to look into residential care options. During this prolonged wait, Covid became less of a concern, and Oliver’s world started to open up once again - he returned to Portland College and The Adventure Service, helping him get the social interaction he loves, whilst his parents relished the much-needed opportunity for time to themselves.
To begin with there were no responses from residential care – the financial package was increased and the catchment area for residential homes widened to encompass Chesterfield as well as Nottinghamshire. They had two responses! One of the managers of the homes visited Oliver. He was very excited about this as he loves people. All went well and Karen and Phil visited the residential which now houses 6 adults with learning disabilities. They were very impressed with the ‘mod cons’ and felt at ease with the staff.
In May 2022, Oliver started a steady transition process. Oliver and Karen visited for Sunday lunch and then Oliver stayed over for Saturday tea... without his parents.
July 2022 saw Oliver’s first sleepover and he was delighted to spend time with his new friends – it couldn’t have gone better, and he didn’t want to go back home! Gradually Oliver spent more and more time in his new home in Chesterfield and he was ready to move in full time much quicker than anyone expected. In Sept 2022, he started to move his belongings into his new bedroom. Karen and Phil felt devasted even though it was the outcome they had been working towards.
Karen spoke of the feelings of guilt and worry she experienced during the process of Oliver leaving home. She also expressed that she couldn’t be happier now as he is delighted with his new life style, and so is she! Oliver loves living with his new friends where he goes bowling, shopping, to the cinema, walks in the countryside, train rides and trips to theme parks. Karen now goes on spa days! Karen and Phil can visit Oliver without an appointment but tend to call beforehand as his social life is rather busy. The staff in his home are approachable and welcoming. Luckily for The Adventure Service, Oliver still attends our Mansfield Woodhouse service once a week.
Although Karen felt like a failure as a parent for asking for help, she knows it was the right decision to make. Karen emphasised that they needed to ensure that Oliver was settled in a new home in-case anything happened to them. She now feels unbelievably fantastic for the future... and so does Oliver!
Karen is happy to speak with parents/carers who have worries similar to her own. Please contact Daniel at email@example.com or phone 01623 232102 and he will pass on your details to Karen so she can get in touch.