Yesterday we looked around our first ‘adult’ short breaks provision – Respite is now called Short Breaks – the first of three alternatives in our local authority area that our 18+ social worker has identified for us. So that is the first thing, we have a choice of three once Joshua is 18, but as a child, he has to travel 50 miles for his Short Breaks! My husband and I both went to look around, with an open mind and not really knowing what to expect. This one is just 15 minutes from home so it wins on the convenience stakes and is in a beautiful, rural location, overlooking fields and stables so Joshua would feel at home there.
The manager greeted us with a smile and she was very pleasant and she showed us around, answering all of our questions. There was just one resident there at the this time and in fact I knew her, she had she is two years older than Joshua but they had shared two previous provisions. She looked happy and seemed to recognise us – she had certainly lead my husband by the hand around a garden in the past! – and her two carers seemed to be attentive and friendly. It has four bedrooms, all with double beds in, which was a key difference from his current location and took me by surprise, until the manager explained that they are all adult residents and asked how many adults I knew who slept in a single bed, which was a fair point. It had a safe garden with a bright mural and a new trampoline, so it was starting to represent a sensory garden.
I liked it and I liked the manager, but I did not love it. I fell instantly in love with his current placement – the staff , the building and the city centre location – and while possible, it did not compare with that. Perhaps we have been spoilt with the best? This is a new home, it has only been open for around a year and so it still lacked heart for me. But possibly it only needs the buzz of more staff and residents for it to feel more homely.
We will view the other two local places and then let our social worker know our preference. And then they will need to do whatever needs to happen with the finances, and of course a gradual Transition process will need to be planned in. The new staff, wherever they are based, will need to meet Joshua and to see him both at school and in his current respite provision, so that they get the professionals’ opinion as well as seeing the young man for themselves. There are certainly exciting, but scary, times up ahead as Joshua turns 18 and I am trying to embrace the change, as it will happen, whether I like it or not.