I looked around another possible Adult respite provider yesterday afternoon. In my search I have been looking for somewhere that I could picture Joshua in, somewhere that I can imagine him having fun. This was in a rural location and so the bedrooms looked out over fields, like we do, and so that gave me a good feeling. It is down a long country lane, but within 5 minutes drive of “Donalds”, so that would make our son happy! It is not yet open and so there were no young people there, so I could not judge whether people were having fun or not, but it was well equipped with a games room, sensory room, comfortable lounge and a spacious kitchen where everyone could eat together. There were six single en suite bedrooms, each with their own television.
So it seemed to be well resourced. The garden was still to be developed but they had real potential with space outside. They had a polytunnel for gardening and were getting some bird feeders too. The deputy manager who showed me around said that she had requested a washing line too, so that the young people could help with laundry tasks too. It is designed for 18 to 35 year olds, so he would be surrounded by peers of his own age and it would appear to be more flexible than his current provision : we would book nights, like a hotel booking, rather than being allocated a fixed weekend every four weeks, which may or may not suit. It will require us to be more organised and to do more forward planning as we would be asking for dates rather than being told what we had been allocated.
I liked what I saw and it gave me a sense of peace of mind that our search might be over and to think that what we needed could be just 35 minutes from home, that would be an improvement on the current 90 minutes. As there were no members yet, the team that was there were either engaged in cleaning tasks or they were undergoing training. They asked me questions too. I shared with them the leftover baking from my school coffee morning which made them very happy, so that was a good start too.
My plan is to return with both my husband and Joshua so that they could also see what they think but to start the ball rolling if possible, after speaking to the manager. I understand that this transfer will not be a quick process, that the paperwork would all need to be completed and then our choice would need to be approved by ‘panel’ – whoever they are! And then, if approved, the transition process would get underway, with the involvement of his current provision. I expect that Joshua would have a gradual introduction, as he did three years ago to his new set up; starting with an after-school visit, then staying for tea with us there too, then staying for tea on his own, then one overnight stay and finally consecutive stays. Three years ago Joshua was more laid back and accommodating, I suspect that the new more aware, livelier Joshua would require that more gradual transfer from the familiar to the new.
I would love to see that genuine affection for the respite staff that he showed for the two team members that came to the school meeting this week, replicated ultimately at this new set up. Of course it won’t be instant, but Joshua is a good judge of character in the main, so his reaction to the staff there will be another good indicator of whether he will settle there or not. It is people that he thrives on really, not the availability of a sensory room or the colour of the decor.
I came away with a good feeling that I may have finally found what I was looking for and just in the nick of time too. So let’s see how this pans out……