Another successful new era for Welsh residential service The Grange
The Grange, a homely, residential service in Carmarthen, Wales, shows active support and person-centred support at its very best. The service, led by a strong and dedicated team, provides support and accommodation for adults with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs in a positive, nurturing setting. Situated within walking distance of Carmarthen town, The Grange offers six en-suite bedrooms in a relaxed and calm, yet vibrant and buzzing environment with positivity. There’s something truly special about the environment at The Grange that can only really be appreciated by seeing the team in action! Below are some of the great things that are continuing at The Grange and how positive outcomes for the people who live there are just growing and growing…
In 2018-2019, The Grange underwent a significant transformation, that resulted in a re-energised and motivated team and supported individuals achieving things their families never dreamed possible. The reason for this transformation was because of then Service Manager, Jill Cowdry, who after joining the service in June 2017, immediately set about implementing her vision to make The Grange ‘a wonderful environment to live and work.’
Jill’s strategy for achieving this involved adapting the environment to the needs of the people who live there; ensuring individuals were at the heart of everything she and the team did; and ‘actively supporting’ individuals to grow in independence by supporting them to do more for themselves. Jill also focused on the team and ensuring they were well supported, well trained and confident to support individuals with a range of complex needs.
2020 and beyond, Monica Airinei is appointed as Manager…
Since Monica Airinei was appointed as the new Service Manager at The Grange in April 2020, her determination to keep Jill’s vision alive has been paramount. Monica, who has worked in the care industry for 13 years, was promoted from Deputy Manager at The Grange (working alongside Jill) to Service Manager, due to her hard work and determination being very much recognised.
“Since becoming manager of The Grange, I have felt extremely welcomed and well supported by the support teams. I really appreciate Consensus entrusting me to manage this fantastic service. I love it here!” – Monica Airinei
Talking with Monica, her passion and determination to make The Grange the best possible home for the supported individuals who live there and to continue with Jill’s vision of making The Grange a wonderful environment to live and work, is evident. Monica says, “My vision for The Grange was to instil my values and high standards of support into the team, as well as sharing my 13 years of experience in the care industry so they can ensure best practice.”
Monica also had her own visions for The Grange. As well as creating a strong, confident and a close-knit team, she also wanted the individuals she supported to always achieve above and beyond. As well as maintaining current routines, Monica also wanted to encourage them to achieve more. She was passionate about giving them choices and taking on more day to day responsibilities, encouraging them to choose what they wanted to wear each morning, choosing if they had a bath or shower, choosing their breakfast and helping to make it. She also wanted to encourage friendships between the supported individuals, so they could enjoy their time together.
Monica’s vision in action…
An amazing example of Monica’s vision in action is of a supported individual who, upon arrival in 2012, was very quiet and did not communicate much at all. However, a few weeks ago, and for the first time ever, he communicated with the team about what he wanted to do with his day. He got up and put his shoes by the office door. At first the team were not sure why he did this, but eventually they worked out that this was his way of communicating to them that he wanted to go out today. Once in the transport vehicle, he even chose where to go, pointing in different directions until they reached their destination by the sea. Monica reflected on how amazing this achievement was for this individual and how he had started to feel confident to communicate and she could not believe it when she first saw it! This was testament to the hard work, empathy and patience of the team over the years and where every small step is celebrated.
Another brilliant example of Monica implementing change to achieve her vision, was by reducing the number of tables in the dining room. She noticed that the supported individuals did not interact as much when eating dinner and some people were a little separated, so to make everyone feel involved Monica tried having just one larger table. She is now extremely happy to see friendships form because of this and has even noticed a particular friendship form with two of the individuals who previously sat apart but will now sit and do things together more often now.
“I put my soul in to The Grange. I always like to leave my mark wherever I go and to give the best impression and give it my all.” – Monica, Service Manager at The Grange
Keeping positive during lockdown…
During lockdown Monica and the support teams faced, with the rest of the country, extremely challenging times. They, however, did not dwell on the daunting prospects of uncertainty and decided to put their heart and soul into still ensuring that The Grange was a ‘wonderful place to live’ for their supported individuals. They started by freshening up the communal areas, including the dining room, lounge, kitchen, conservatory, and hallways. The supported individuals were at the heart of these renovations, choosing happy colour schemes and choosing their own furniture for the different rooms.
As well as lots of decorating, during the Covid-19 pandemic Monica and the support teams ensured the supported individuals were kept happy, well and safe. They took part in lots of activities within the home, including cooking, baking and using their ‘tuff tray’ method – this is a sensory activity which encourages and helps the individuals to use cutlery correctly.
One of the supported individuals also loved going out and about, however this had to come to a halt when the country went into lockdown. So, he took it upon himself to become extremely busy and hands on around the house, Monica recollects how helpful he has been always helping to wash up and clean etc.
A further example of the support team going above and beyond for the people they support was back in March 2021 for Mother’s Day, whereby they asked each of the individuals if they would like their mothers to receive a flower delivery to mark the special day, which they all said yes to. So the support team ordered flowers for each individual’s parent, ensuring they received them on the day, which the supported individuals were extremely excited about. Monica and the team also helped them create their own handmade Mother’s Day cards which they also organised to be delivered to each of the individuals parent. Although they could not be with their loved ones on Mother’s Day, the supported individuals and the relatives were all pleased they got to celebrate in some way.
Monica says, “I am very person-centred in my approach with the supported individuals and always promote opportunity, choice and success, enabling them to reach their full potential and live fulfilled lives.” Monica put this in to practice very recently when ‘Consensus’s Got Talent’ saw her duet with a supported individual whose hobby is to sing. Monica, who has a beautiful singing voice herself, teamed up with an equally as talented gentleman from next doors service Lime Grove Apartments. It really was an amazing duet!
The Grange’s wonderful support team…
As well as ensuring the supported individuals are at the forefront of The Grange’s plans, Monica also ensures her team members are equally as happy and fulfilled in their jobs. To keep spirits high during these difficult times, Monica often gets the support teams involved in TikTok challenges to increase morale and build on their relationships with each other, as well as having a giggle every now and then! Monica refers to her team as “one big family!”
When asking Monica how she would describe The Grange she says, “The Grange is a lovely home with a family feel. I come to work, and it does not even feel like a job, I love to support the people we do and in their own homes too. The supported individuals are all treated as separate individuals and we respect their choices. We are always encouraging them to achieve their goals and inspire them to achieve new ones for example, doing their own shopping or making themselves a cup of tea.”
The next steps for The Grange…
The next project will see Monica and the support teams redeveloping and redesigning the back garden, with the vision to incorporate each of the supported individuals needs into the design. Monica wants to provide the people she supports with a beautiful sensory garden, again involving each person in the decision-making process from choosing the garden furniture to choosing which flowers will be planted. Monica says, “My goal is to have an extremely special garden for the supported individuals to enjoy and spend time in!”
As well as a new sensory garden, there are also plans to redesign one of the rooms inside the home to be converted into a sensory room for the individuals to really be able to stimulate their senses and encourage engagement. With lockdown restrictions lifting, Monica is excited for all of the changes to finally take place and to see the individuals enjoying the new sensory garden and room.