Ashley’s Story – Supported Living, Ipswich

February 14, 2017

Ashley at 18 made the conscious decision he wished to live more independently, having lived with his mum and dad at home since being fostered at just three weeks and subsequently adopted aged five and half years old.

It is very apparent Ashley comes from a close and extremely loving, supportive family, however as the youngest of four siblings he had already experienced his sister and two brothers leave home, embarking on their very natural journeys towards greater independence. So as Ashley approached his eighteenth year it was something he was keen to do himself, having always thought he would have a flat of his own. With the support of his parents, sister and the referrals team at Consensus, it has been the smoothest and most positive of transitions.

A family friend had shared details about Consensus with Pat, Ashley’s mum when they had chatted about Ashley’s wish to become more independent. Pat then visited our website to learn as much as she could about the organisation, which led her to complete an enquiry form online. This form went straight to Bernie, our Referrals Manager. Bernie made contact within the day and within two weeks Ashley’s needs had been assessed at a face to face meeting with Ashley, Pat, Norman and Bernie. Pat said; “It felt too easy”.

It then took a little while before the actual move took place whilst funding was secured, and a place became available. However both Ashely and Pat were grateful for this time as they prepared for the transition and were able to adjust to the new surroundings and support team members. During this period Ashley made several visits to the home, getting to know everyone who lives there and the team who support them, in particular getting to know his key worker.

Barely six months since Ashley moved into one of our supported living services in Ipswich, both Ashley and his parents, Norman and Pat, are delighted with the care, support and accommodation. Pat feels relieved that Ashley has settled so well, as she didn’t know quite how he would react when they actually moved him in. She says; “I can’t fault the support and care.”

Ashley frequently spends time with his family especially at the weekends, enjoying trips to the theatre and long Sunday lunches. Pat and her husband are often in the home catching up with their son, sharing in his achievements and supporting him with any concerns. They are a part of the home’s family and very much welcomed, involved, supported and kept informed on Ashley’s progress and needs.

Ashley however isn’t sitting at home waiting for the weekends to arrive. He has a busier social life than most.

Still in education, a keen Norwich and Ipswich football fan, Ashley makes time to follow both clubs progress either through the radio or on TV with friends, who share his home, in the evenings and at weekends. He is very articulate about the teams, the management of them and the players he would like to see join the clubs. Using his season ticket, he can be found watching from the stands of Ipswich Football ground willing them on beside thousands of other equally passionate fans.

For the last four years, founder member Ashley has been an active member of Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors, playing wheelchair rugby as a striker. He also plays wheelchair basketball at least one evening a week at a local school. In order to stay match fit Ashley really enjoys propelling himself to and completing at least two sessions a week at his local gym, using many of the free-weights and machines.

Ashley is seizing his independence with both hands and thoroughly enjoys his weekly trip to the local bowling alley, where he competes against his support worker, followed by a visit to the supermarket to purchase his weekly shop. He makes a list with the support of Monica, prior to leaving in a taxi for the trip to ensure he gets all his usual supplies and a few treats. This evening is always a highlight in Ashley’s diary as he enjoys his favourite meal in the bowling alley café of Cheese Burger and Chips.

Ashley considers this meal a treat as he tries to maintain a healthy approach to food. He always has a healthy lunch during the day including fruit and ham sandwiches and enjoys a healthy nutritious meal in the evening. Monica is supporting Ashley to prepare his evening meals beginning with chopping vegetables as the first step. Ashley ensures most off his meats contain no more than 5% fat and that he also drinks plenty of water and sugar-free squash.

Diet is an important part of Ashley’s support plan as it helps him with his controlled continence routine. He has endured several operations to allow for controlled continence with nursing support and requires regular nursing support for emptying his bowel. However, Ashley is extremely active and lets nothing deter him from leading a full, happy and varied life. By being fit and healthy Ashley find it much easier to propel himself in his manual wheelchair about the local town and to college.

Ashley sets himself goals continually with the support of his family and support team and in the last few months since moving to supported living he has developed the skills to shower himself, tidy his room, and get himself dressed. Ashley is hugely proud of his achievements and laughs when he shares his next goal. Whilst he feels confident getting himself dressed he struggles with his trousers, not getting them on, but getting them the right way round! He is determined to get it right and get his slippers on too. Living with spinabifida, making him paraplegic from the waist down and with moderate learning difficulties which affect Ashley’s short term memory, developing new skills, such as these, is remarkable.

Preferring to dress in comfortable casuals including much loved football tops, Ashley likes to take time out occasionally to enjoy a little humour watching firm favourites, ‘Mrs Browns Boys’ and ‘Only fools and horses.’

But Ashley has more aspirations to fulfill and is currently with the help of Pat and the support team trying to locate somewhere to play the drums and learn a few more skills. He is also aiming to access more support with Maths and English though a local charity.

As both Ashley and Pat sit sharing a drink and having a catch up with the service Manager, it is abundantly clear that Ashley is very positive about his move and when asked what the best thing about moving has been he says it is his “Increased independence and confidence.” Pat is clearly extremely proud of everything Ashley is achieving and when asked what her hopes are for Ashley’s future she says; “That he keeps himself safe and happy.”