Mel McDonnell, Team Leader at Lifestyle Choices South East, writes about why she joined Livability and the role she plays in helping disabled people retake their independence and freedom of choice.
Mel (left) and Corinne, Manager (right) at the National Learning Disabilities Awards in June 2015.
I have a lot of care experience as I worked for a charity called Milestones Trust in Bristol for about four years in the dementia specialist unit and a supported living unit for people with learning disabilities.
It was a wonderful job because we are able to help people to take control of their own lives and make their own choices.
I completed the first stage of Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) training and then decided to travel abroad to become more confident as I was too shy at this time for a management role.
When returning to England three years later, I found this job at Livability in supported living as support worker. I was very lucky to be offered the role as team leader for a small supported living unit in Brighton and I also have three clients living in their family homes in Brighton, Eastbourne and Peacehaven.
I took the job because I could see that Livability treat people equally in society and assist people to get the best out of their lives as possible.
The type of work I do is supporting the staff in their roles and trying to make improvements for them and job enrichments for them that also benefit our clients.
I help to organise the activities and new projects, refurbishments and revamps taking place. I liaise with medical professionals and other professionals involved in clients’ lives, attending many meetings and events in the community that can benefit our clients.
A lot of my role is mediating, reassuring and counselling both staff, management and clients and I have involved myself in community charities and training which I feel helps me in my role for Livability.
Two of my clients are a lady and gentleman in Brighton who are siblings. The gentleman uses non-verbal communication and he takes a while to trust and form relationships, but once he lets you in it is lovely to be able to support him in his life. It is very rewarding as we must work a little harder to make him happy and he really appreciates it when people take the time the time and patience to build this rapport.
The lady also uses gestures, noises and taking cues to indicate what she wants. She is often fun and boisterous and other times she can be quiet and delicate so it is up to the carer to recognise how she is feeling and want kind of support she needs/wants at that present moment.
Since Livability has been involved in these clients’ care many improvements have been made to enrich their lives and give them a happier more beautiful lifestyle.
The house they live in, including the garden, is being revamped and refurbished to make it more accessible so that they are both able to enjoy it.
They attend discos, local events and weekly day centres where they have built relationships and friendships.
They are even taking their first ever holiday later this year.
[banner text=”They know and are greeted by many of their neighbours and live independent lives, making their own choices every day.” source=”Mel McDonnell” thumbnail=”https://www.livability.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Mel-and-Corinne-200×120.jpg” quotemarks=”yes”]
When I was nominated for an Award at the National Learning Disabilities Awards the feeling was so overwhelming when I had a call at home and it was quite emotional. I am very grateful to my manager for taking all that time to put me forward for it as she is extremely busy.
I work in a fantastic team all have the same goal of making our clients as happy as possible and enhancing their lives in any way possible. The hard work, dedication and love that they each individually put into their work is amazing.
These members of staff go way above and beyond their job roles to build close relationships with the lovely service users, some who no longer have any family.
I really love my job and wouldn’t change any part of it. From the work and support that Livability has provided over the South East we have a very good reputation and get a lot of interest from people requiring care all over the area. In the future I hope we will be able to expand and help many more people.
[banner url=”https://www.livability.org.uk/services/support/leisure-social-activities-disabled-people/” text=”Find out more about how Lifestyle Choices brings independence and freedom to get the most out of life.” linktext=”Read more” thumbnail=”” quotemarks=”no”]