I recently spent the afternoon with ARC member New Directions and, as is usually the case when I spend time in the company of supported people and staff who work in members’ services, I came away feeling inspired and energised.
What I have noticed is that it is different aspects of services that have this effect but that these differences are underpinned by the highly person-centred support that I am able to see people being provided with.
In the case of New Directions, one aspect that differentiates them is that the services are all within a square mile of each other, a short walk from the town centre and unidentifiable as homes for people with a learning disability because they are no different from the properties nearby.
This means that you may be walking past the homes of people supported by New Directions on your way to work or into town and not know about them. This is deliberate because, as CEO Paul Tolley explained to me, “The aim is for people to enjoy their lives living alongside their neighbours in ways that are the least institutionalised as possible”.
Because the buildings, which include registered residential services, supported living services, respite care as well as a day service, are all so close to each other, the model seems to offer some of the advantages of the campus model but with modern homes that meet and in many ways exceed the requirements of Right Support, Right Care, Right Culture.
Whether this was a light and airy residential home where people were enjoying each others’ company in a communal space or their own flats that they are proud to take care of, the supported people I met told me how much they loved their homes, how much they are being supported to do for themselves and to increase their independence and how much they value being part of the New Directions community.
Harry Davies (pictured above), for example, explained to me about how much better his social life is since he moved into his own flat where he has made friends with other people supported by New Directions and who have the same interests, which seemed to include going to the local pub quite a bit.
Luke and his brother talked enthusiastically about their interests (one likes rugby and the other football and they are supported to see their local teams by their support staff) and they also shared with me that they are at different points on their journey towards becoming more and more independent and able to access the local facilities.
Everything that New Directions does is underpinned by the depth of knowledge and understanding that staff have of the people they support and a clear focus on creating the conditions where people can thrive and develop in ways that make sense to them doing the things they love to do.
Thank you to Paul and his team for a wonderful afternoon and to all the people supported by New Directions who were happy to take time to tell me about their lives.