Dan thrives at residential service, The Pines

August 31, 2021

The Pines is a pleasant house close to Bury St Edmunds providing a high standard of accommodation for individuals with learning disabilities and complex needs. Some people living at the service may also express behaviours which others might find challenging.

With a friendly, encouraging team there is a very positive environment at The Pines, where the focus is on providing a person-centred, inclusive approach, helping individuals with complex challenges to live a meaningful, fulfilling life. The house is split into three areas which can support individuals requiring intensive support and those who wish to experience more independent living via accommodation in a self-contained flat.

It’s only a matter of months since 45-year-old Dan moved into The Pines, but his life has transformed for the better in every way. Service Manager, Sam Almond, explains.

“Dan joined us from a service that was closing down, where he’d been living for 18 years. The supported people in that service had been given 28 days’ notice of the closure, and, by the time we were approached about Dan possibly joining us, there were only eight days to go until the service was due to close.”

Sam continues, “Normally a new supported individual would visit the service three or four times and build up to an overnight stay. It’s as important for our team as it is for the supported individual – so we know that the new person will gel with the others in the service. There was no time for that in Dan’s case, but I was confident that he would fit in well. It just meant that his support plans and risk assessments needed to be prepared extremely quickly.”

Dan has Down’s Syndrome and Sam had been told by the support workers at the previous service that he couldn’t do a lot of tasks, that he wasn’t very sociable and didn’t like dogs (The Pines has a dog, as well as hamsters and guinea pigs). His appearance was bedraggled – he had long hair and a beard – and Sam was told he’d need 70 hours of one-to-one support each week. He also seemed to be estranged from his 12 siblings.

Moving in and making friends

Dan took the move to The Pines in February 2021 in his stride. The team and individuals living at The Pines went all out to ensure he was warmly welcomed, throwing a little welcome party to show him the happy family environment he’d joined. One resident, Kevin, made friends with Dan straight away – they’re a similar age and have lots in common.

Sam organised for Dan to be supported by two key workers with similar interests to him, and the team worked continuously with him for the first two weeks, learning about him and what he wanted to achieve. Sam also spoke to all his family who wanted to be involved in his care.

Within days Dan was well groomed and clean shaven and was taking the dog for walks. Six months on and he’s doing all the things Sam was told he wouldn’t and couldn’t do – and so much more. The team have reduced Dan’s level of one-to-one support to 21 hours a week and eight of these are used to support him with a new work placement at a local farm that the team helped him to find. Dan loves animals but he likes to have one of the team with him as he goes about his tasks. Sam’s fairly sure that, as his confidence grows, even these hours may become unnecessary.

Enjoying a fun and fulfilling life

“I believe it was a case in the previous service of Dan not having been given the encouragement to do things, rather than him being unable to do them,” says Sam. “At The Pines we’re all about empowering people to live as independently as possible and to fulfil their goals. Dan helps to prepare veg for dinner, and he cooks once a week. He’ll wash up, he goes swimming each week. He and his friends Victoria and Kevin go the local pub, help in the garden, and listen to music.

“We have a fantastic activity programme at The Pines, with educational and music sessions as well as fun things like karaoke and bake-offs. We take part in all the Consensus competitions and were runners-up in the Christmas cake competition! Dan gets stuck into all of it. What’s more, he’s now in touch with his siblings regularly – calling and writing to them – and they take him out. His more active lifestyle has even enabled him to lose a bit of weight.”

New experiences – and horizons

Another new experience that Dan and his friends are looking forward to is the Thera Trust’s Ahead Club Summer Ball. “Dan’s got a tuxedo, there’ll be a sit down meal and a disco afterwards. He can’t wait. He and Kevin are also talking about going on holiday next year!” smiles Sam.

“I think the friends Dan has made at The Pines, the support and independence he has, and the self-esteem that he’s developed since moving here, working at the farm and reconnecting with his family have all made a huge difference to him. He’s a pleasure to support.”

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