Life by the Essex coast at Blakeney House and Kingston House

September 24, 2020

Both located along the Essex seaside coast, Blakeney House (in Westcliff-on-Sea) and Kingston House (in Leigh-on-Sea) are residential services supporting individuals with learning disabilities, autism, mental health issues and complex needs, some of the individuals may also express behaviours that others find challenging.

Life at Blakeney House

Blakeney House is situated on a quiet residential street, but within walking distance to the beautiful sea front, shops, and many local amenities that Westcliff-on-Sea has to offer. Life at Blakeney is described as caring and positive where opportunity and choice is paramount.

Each of the individuals that live at Blakeney are encouraged to decorate their bedrooms to suit their tastes and preferences and with plenty of communal space and a large garden, the service is able to accommodate social events and outdoor activities as often as the individuals like.

The atmosphere at Blakeney is fast paced but fun, where individuals are always supported to achieve their goals and aspirations. Back in December 2019 and as part of supported individual, John’s, person-centred support plan, he achieved his dream of seeing the British comedy sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ in the theatre in London for his 71st Birthday. John has been a massive fan of the program since it first aired in 1981 and as he is in his 70’s he can relate to the era the programme is set. John was also brought up in London, so the programme and being back in London evoked some great memories for him.

There people we support at Blakeney are described as having “a big presence in the community where people know the individuals by name and always say hello”. They are all a mixture of ages and abilities, however everyone gets on well and supports each other in their daily lives. All the individuals are very much involved in the local community and are always out and about, with some attending a nearby college.

Life at Kingston House

Kingston House is a homely, 9-bedroom residential service on the Essex Coast in the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea. The service supports individuals with learning disabilities, autism, mental health issues and complex needs, some of the individuals may also express behaviours that others find challenging.

The focus is very much on inclusion and living a meaningful, fulfilling life. Person centred goals and achievements, big and small, are always encouraged as is greater independence and choice on a daily basis. Individuals are supported to develop their daily living skills such as washing, shopping, cleaning and cooking which helps increase skills, confidence and self-esteem.

Kingston House is very much a ‘family home’, where everyone gets on and activities, seasonal events and parties of celebration take place regularly. The supported individuals at Kingston House are a range of ages and have different needs and health conditions. They all have individualised person-centred plans to achieve their goals and aspirations and are encouraged to develop their daily living skills and independence.

The support team at Kingston House ensure that the individuals they support are active in the local community, where they enjoy getting out and about and take advantage of new opportunities. For example, some of the individuals attend a local college, some enjoy attending day services to partake in numerous activities and others love going to the cinema or have a coffee in the local coffee shop. One of the individuals loves singing so attends a local singing group! In the past they have even been supported to go on day trips to London and on holidays further afield.

Pulling together during lock-down

During the Covid-19 global pandemic homes across the U.K. found themselves in total lock-down for months, unable to go out and socialise as they once did.

Blakeney House during lock-down…

The support team at Blakeney ensured that the supported individuals during this stressful time were kept occupied and tried to keep life as normal as possible for them. They were busied with cupcake making, producing art masterpieces and pampering themselves with facemasks and pedicures. 

The support team even became innovative with the choice in activities, coming up with the much loved ‘international cooking night’ which took place every Saturday.

“We have a very multicultural team so everyone cooked dishes from their respective countries which everyone enjoyed.”

When the supported individuals were also unable to attend their usual Thursday drama night, the team took it upon themselves to create their own drama nights in the garden. This took place every Thursday to give the supported individuals a bit of routine and structure.

During the pandemic, our wonderful team of Quality Checkers came up with ways in which they could connect with the individuals in the services and support them with any concerns they may have. This also included coming up with ways for the other services within Consensus to meet each other ‘virtually’ and create friendships. John, a supported individual at Blakeney House, thoroughly enjoyed the weekly Skype calls and became friendly with some of the services.

Since the lock-down has eased and the services are beginning to explore the outside once more safely, Blakeney House have met up with individuals from other services including Southwold and Norwich Road, who they became friendly with during lock-down. 

Kingston House during lock-down…

During the global Covid-19 pandemic the individuals at Kingston House were supported to join in in many different activities to keep them fit and active. Where it was harder to get out and about like normal, the support team thought of an innovative way to get the supported individuals on their feet and active. Each morning songs were put on so the individuals could have a ‘dance’ and get their steps in, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Lots of Birthdays also happened at Kingston House during the lock-down period, but the support team ensured that everyone still joined in on making whoever’s birthday it was feel special. One of the supported individuals turned 88 years old and as he is such a John Wayne fanatic the team ensured his birthday was cowboy themed.

Although the supported individuals were unable to see their loved ones on Mother’s Day this year, the support team at Kingston House ensured their loved ones had a handmade care delivered to mark the special day, which everyone was thrilled about.

The Support Teams at Blakeney and Kingston House

The team at Blakeney are incredibly passionate about what they do with a lot of the core team having been at the service for quite some time. Just like Blakeney, the support team at Kingston are very close-knit and always look out for each other. They are all extremely passionate about supporting the people that live at Kingston and feel proud of the work they do.

Service Manager Michelle says, “I have worked in the industry for 30 years and I love my job! Working at Kingston House is very rewarding, we are a very close team and we all work together to give the people that live here the very best support they need.

Service Manager of Kingston House – Michelle Coote

We always put the supported individuals needs first and ensure they have choice over what they do. One of our supported individuals has mobility issues and loves the sea, so the team take her in the car and drive her down to the sea (which we are luckily very close to in Leigh) to make sure she can see and experience her love of the seaside. It’s very important the individuals we support can experience these things.

Everyone gets on really well at Kingston, the supported individuals are all great friends and they all look out for each other. They like to socialise together, but also have the choice to take part in their own activities which sometimes they do. I consider us all as one big family at Kingston House, which is lovely to come into work to everyday!”

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