More than a party!
Helping to inspire people who provide support for people with learning disabilities and complex needs, the Manager of Grammar School House in Essex shares how they approached celebrating Christmas last year.
“Sunday 11th December last year saw the execution of an amazing Christmas party which was in no doubt thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. But this is just the end of a story of great team work, supported individual involvement, family and community inclusion and person-centred support planning that makes you feel proud to work with such an amazing group of people.
For those of you who don’t know us, Grammar School House is home to twelve very different people. Different in every way possible; likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, physical ability and many complex and wide ranging health needs. So how exactly do you put together a party that considers everyone and offers a happy and meaningful experience for all?
We started well with an early planning session, brainstorming ideas and working out what we would need to achieve over the coming weeks if we were going to pull this together on the day.
A venue, we needed one big safe space to be able to bring people together, that would also allow individuals freedom to do their own thing. Venue booked, a local club with a hall that several people we support drink in regularly, so familiar to some, which is a good start. Now we have three months to get LT, a supported individual, comfortable to leave the house after a number of years and happy to be in a club environment. Might we be asking too much?
Entertainment, it’s amazing what talent and skills you can find under your nose when you start looking for it.
I remembered reading another supported individuals bucket list; “To perform on a stage to tell my jokes.” Consider it done.
Support team member with an interest in amateur dramatics is now promoted to Head of Entertainment and tasked with learning a few Christmas songs and writing a short story about Christmas at Grammar School House, to read at the party.
A Raffle, always a favourite.
Activity tables, to bring people together.
Music, not too loud.
Disco lights, not too bright or to fast with several known epileptic in the building.
Break through, LT is now happily going out for short walk and also happy to go out for a short time on the bus.
Food, traditional party food isn’t a great option for the many special and varied diets we have to cater for. Something we can all eat would need some thought.
With the work started colleagues supported the guys to make and send out invitations in good time in the hope of involving as many of the families, support networks and friends as possible.
Over the coming weeks jokes were practiced, cookies were baked, cakes were decorated, table decorations were created and table craft ideas were prepared with the guys involved at every step of the way. LT is now managing up to an hour in the club once or twice a week.
Party outfits chosen.
Jacket Potatoes with a range of hot and cold toppings! Menu sorted.
Table activities decided, make a tree decoration for our entrance hall Christmas tree.
Decorate our homemade cookies to eat or take home.
Help to make Christmas paperchains to be hung around Grammar over the Christmas period.
Shopping done, food prepared; chicken curry, beef chilli, ratatouille, tuna mayo, cheese and beans and with great excitement the day is here.”
Well done Team!