James secures a job at Travis Perkins

March 26, 2012

Heatherington House

Established in 1982, the Gretton Homes Group is renowned worldwide for its success in supporting people with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS).

Gretton Homes is owned and operated by Consensus Support Services, a national award winning, quality accredited specialist provider of residential and supported living services for adults with learning disabilities and associated complex health needs.

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that requires in-depth understanding and support to enable the delivery of positive outcomes to those with the condition.

Our philosophy is to recognise individual needs whilst understanding the challenges that an individual with PWS experiences daily. For some, PWS is considered an eating condition where sufferers are restricted in their daily life through their insatiable appetites: At Gretton Homes we recognise all the other challenges that this condition presents to individuals; emotionally, physically, cognitively, behaviourally and socially.

This in-depth understanding enables us to deliver a person-centred approach that is appropriate to each individual whilst addressing their specific needs and supporting positive outcomes for them.

Heatherington House – Kettering, Northamptonshire

Located within minutes of Kettering town centre, Heatherington House offers a range of local facilities and amenities many of which are incorporated into each person’s support plan. Heatherington House is a spacious Edwardian property offering en-suite accommodation for eight individuals with PWS. The service has been supporting adults with PWS since 2000.

James’* Story:

*Names have been changed to protect privacy

In October 1999 James made the transition into Hetherington House.  Staff at Heatherington recognised James’ potential from an early stage and have always encouraged him to achieve the best out of life by actively listening to his goals and aspirations and supporting him to reach his full potential.

Before James moved into Heatherington House he resided at a boarding school for individuals with learning disabilities in Brighton for almost nine years; two of which were spent receiving speech therapy. When the time came for James to leave his boarding school it was crucial to find a secure, predictable and structured environment where he could be supported by a team who understood the complexities of Prader-Willi Syndrome (an eating condition where individuals are restricted in their daily life through their insatiable appetites.) As part of the PWS specialist Gretton Homes Group, Heatherington House proved a good fit for James’ personality and needs.

James never found it easy to communicate his needs and wishes but by spending quality time with him, support staff were able to understand and give him the confidence and reassurance he needed in order to express himself.

James was fiercely determined to become more independent, with two of his long-term outcomes being to work part time and to live semi-independently in his own flat whilst managing the complexities of Prader-Willi Syndrome.

By building a trusting relationship with him, providing a safe environment and having a very specific understanding of the complex myriad of challenges presented by Prader-Willi Syndrome, Heatherington House and its staff has enabled James to participate as an active member of his community.

James was given the opportunity and necessary support to plan a structured timetable of activities that covered two main areas of development. Firstly college courses were identified as a good means of improving communication, build positive relationships and increase self-esteem whilst gaining personal responsibilities. Secondly, exercise programmes were agreed to aid with weight loss, develop his general fitness and health and gain a greater level of independence alongside social and personal skills.

James’s key worker clearly understood the best role he could play in his development:

“Allowing James to set his own goals and identify what he needed to do to achieve them meant that he could take ownership of them, thereby creating responsibility and choice over his own progress. As his key worker, I could then support him and facilitate certain activities which would give him the best opportunity for development and long-term success.”

With a number of physical, social and emotional issues to overcome, James and his key worker spent concentrated time developing important interpersonal skills that would enable him to move into group situations. Relaxation strategies improved confrontational behaviours, provided Increased levels of responsibility and improved level of independence.

James was encouraged to speak more clearly and confidently, using appropriate grammatical structure and vocabulary. 1:1 discussions with his key worker and the opportunity to participate in group discussions improved his communication skills.

James gained a placement at a drama class that greatly increased his confidence and social interaction.

Through the support provided, James received the confidence to go out and visit the local charity shops and look for voluntary employment, which he secured at the British Heart Foundation. James volunteered there every day and sometimes at weekends; to this day James is a valued volunteer and has progressed well within the role from serving customers to using the till to process financial transactions.

James has come a long way over the last 13 years and it was agreed by support staff, his key worker and James himself that he would like to find paid employment in the local community. Gretton Homes has established a good relationship with Travis Perkins in Kettering, one of the UK’s largest builders merchants. Support staff began making enquiries into the possibility of James working at a site close to Heatherington House. Staff explained what PWS is, gave Travis Perkins some background on James, surveyed the environment, spoke with both senior and junior staff and prepared James to work alongside another PWS co-worker in another branch before commencing employment.

Lisa Keenan, service manager of Heatherington said after visiting the branch

“I can honestly say that the staff at Travis Perkins have taken on board the information about PWS and I had a genuine sense that they are looking forward to James starting work. They were so accommodating and helpful which was so refreshing and put both of our minds at rest. One member of staff even said ‘I am sure James will be an asset to the branch’.

What was especially reassuring was that we spoke to them about food security, crucial to managing PWS and I identified a couple of potential problem areas and they were addressed on the spot. James is very excited as am I about this great opportunity!”

This is the second occasion that Gretton Homes have worked with Travis Perkins to provide employment for individuals with PWS. Shaun* from Perrywood, another Service operated by Gretton Homes has been successfully employed at the Northampton branch for almost two years. With over 600 branches throughout the UK the hope is that other work opportunities may arise for individuals at Gretton Homes.

James has recently started employment two days a week at Travis Perkins and is still conscientious enough to continue with the voluntary placement at the British Heart Foundation. James manages to combine the two roles and maintain all his other commitments and activities and leads a wonderful fulfilled life.

Lisa added:

“This has meant everything to James and he is the happiest I have seen him; he feels empowered and keeps telling me he is on cloud nine. It has really proved to him that all his hard work and dedication has paid off. The first time he arrived at my office door wearing his new Travis Perkins uniform I was filled with pride; we are all immensely proud of him.”

This feeling was reiterated by James’ parents, who told us:

“James is more confident, less argumentative and developing into a very pleasant young man.”

The team at Heatherington House have provided James with ongoing specialist support that without, he would not have been empowered enough to achieve everything he has to date.

For more information on Gretton Homes and the support we provide to individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome click here