Jackie blossoms at residential service in Wales, Ashbury House

August 19, 2021

“There’s a close-knit family atmosphere at Ashbury House. The people who live here, and the staff team, are friendly and welcoming. It’s a very happy home.”

So says Chris Charles, Service Manager of Ashbury House, a residential service for adults with learning disabilities and autism and additional profound and complex health needs, in Magor, Monmouthshire.

Chris joined the service just prior to the pandemic and brought with him a strong person-centred approach that is bearing impressive results for Ashbury House residents.

An empowering approach

Residents of Ashbury House may have physical disabilities and visual and hearing impairment and sensory loss, so they need very person-centred individualised support plans. The service is also designed and equipped to support individuals who may have mobility difficulties, require the use of a wheelchair and/or may have communication difficulties. Whatever their challenges, Chris and his team find ways to empower them to make choices and do as much as they can for themselves supporting them to communicate in a way that is right for them.

Jackie blossoms at Ashbury House

Jackie is a very sociable 69-year-old lady who has lived at the service for ten years who has flourished since Chris joined the home. Jackie can verbally communicate and can move one arm without pain. However, her severe mobility issues mean that she needs full support to be moved.

Due to Jackie’s severe physical needs the team used to fulfil every aspect of her care. While she received very efficient, good quality care and support, she wasn’t developing a sense of independence. By spearheading a person-centred approach to support focusing on active support, Chris has enabled the team to support Jackie to learn many daily living skills which she now does for herself, with help.

Today Jackie bakes cakes, does laundry and even cooks for the other supported individuals. Homemade pizzas are her speciality. The team will have the ingredients ready on the kitchen table, and they’ll support Jackie to cut things up and put everything together.

At the heart of the home

“Jackie is definitely the mum of the home,” says Chris. “She’s a lovely lady who relishes social interactions. She knows everyone well and will chat with the other residents, recognising their verbal cues. She’s got a strong bond with one lady, and encourages her to eat, and she’s always asking me how I am.”

Chris continues, “Jackie is very involved in homelife now and wants to be more so. During the day she will often use the lift to come upstairs to the office. She does word searches and watches Cliff Richard videos on YouTube and says she’s working. We’ve shown her how to use the phone, and she regularly calls her siblings and friends. We’re now helping her to build her confidence so she can answer the phone when it rings and direct the call to the right person.”

Expanding horizons

Jackie used to attend a local day centre, but when it closed the team found her a place at the New Horizons Day Centre, a Consensus service only a mile from Ashbury House. Jackie has been going to the centre once a week since the spring of 2021 and loves it. She does arts and crafts, puzzles and enjoys chatting to the new friends she’s made there.

Jackie’s self-esteem and confidence continues to grow. Now, with the team’s help, she is becoming more engaged in her mobility. An occupational therapist has recently provided a fabric ladder that attaches to the end of Jackie’s bed, which she uses to pull herself up prior to being moved. The team are also supporting her to manage and reduce her weight, which should also enhance her mobility.

Looking ahead

Chris and the Ashbury House team, with input from the Speech and Language Team (SALT) are now working to provide more person-centred communication approaches for the people they support. These might include using Makaton (a language programme that uses signs together with speech and symbols, to enable people to communicate), pictorial cues or technology-based approaches. “This will enable us to expand residents’ choices in all aspects of how each person lives their life at Ashbury House,” says Chris.

“There are so many things that the supported individuals could do, from volunteering in the community to going on holidays,” he concludes. “One lady grew up in Spain. How amazing would it be if we could support her to return for a holiday? But these are my ideas. I’m looking forward to working with the residents to make their own ideas a reality.”

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