We’re featuring a new model of shared care in our latest innovation blog. This approach means that disabled adults supported by Livability are getting more opportunities to socialise at home and away.
Ramsey Court is a purpose-built apartment block at the heart of Winlaton, a small, friendly village in West Gateshead. Livability North East supports eight people there, with a range of disabilities and ages, to live in their own flats, with support workers calling in. A concierge service provides night cover. With different levels of need, one person may have funding for just one hour’s support a day, whilst another is funded for seven hours a day. Because the social care sector is finding it hard to get enough staff, this can make it difficult for the person with ‘short calls’ to find a care provider and people with disabilities can suffer as a result.
Senior Area Manager Rachel Davidson explains how Livability tried a new approach: ‘During Covid, the people at Ramsey were a “bubble” and could socialise together, rather than be completely isolated in their own flats. So this led to group activities with two or three staff who enabled people to plan, shop and cook food for a shared ‘Ramsey restaurant’ night. Service Delivery Lead Melanie Peel, encouraged more social nights to help the residents get to know each other, and this led not only to going out together, such as to the local pub quiz but to care being provided more flexibly at Ramsey.’
Because the tenants are friends with each other, and because they are empowered to make decisions about when their support hours happen, there has been greater scope for enough support hours to be “pooled” and more adventurous activities to happen. ‘So in the summer, the people we support pooled their hours so that they would have enough staff, as a group, to have a fun day out in Scarborough,’ says Rachel. ‘For someone like Charlotte, who lives here and who is funded for a short time each day, this was something new that couldn’t happen unless she “saved up” her support for two weeks.’ This flexible approach does not impinge on fixed points in a person’s day, such as medication needs and personal care, and no one is obliged to be flexible or pool their hours if they do not wish to.
Being encouraged and supported by staff to build friendships and get out together, initially with staff in attendance, has led to a growth in confidence so that ‘people now meet up to go into the village together without staff, to the café or for one of the nice walks round here’, says Rachel.
The Ramsey Court service has become a well-known and welcomed part of the community, which was valuable when a difficulty arose with one of the Ramsey residents. ‘Winlaton is one of those villages where everybody knows everybody, and Melanie has done a fantastic job at getting the service and the people known locally,’ says Rachel. ‘When an issue arose with someone having difficulties in a local shop, the shopkeeper contacted us because he knew this person was part of the community. He wanted to see if we could work constructively together to find a solution.’ This led to staff supporting the person on shop visits for a while, working with him to establish how to access the shop successfully. ‘Yesterday was the first time this person went to the shop on his own again, we’d done a lot of work on enabling him to manage this well, and he was really pleased because it went really well. This is so positive for inclusion,’ says Melanie.
The local authority is impressed with how well the service is working and is building new flats which will adopt a similar service model for disabled people or those who are vulnerable. Melanie pays tribute to the work of her ‘small but resilient and lovely’ team of four ‘What makes me proud is watching how the people we support are progressing in life,’ she says.