A Community That Saved Me. “Without community, there is no liberation” – Audre Lorde I arrived in Hamelin having had a chaotic and dangerous ﬁve or so years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. My loving family needed me to be safe and start my own life as well as lead a full life themselves. … Continued
Content Group: Community Life
Recovery through physical & emotional wellbeing
They really know their stuff…You can tell that the company values the importance of training and invests in their staff team.
How do we equip people with independent living skills?
Supporting Service users in the development of independent living skills has been central to the ethos of this organisation since it was established over 30 years ago. Independent living skills are more than just the ability to cook, clean, select appropriate clothing for weather conditions or to travel safely in the community. A very simplistic definition for independent living skills would be the ability to manage the day-to-day tasks of life, doing as much as possible for ourselves. Making choices about our own lives and knowing when to ask for support from others are also a part of independent living skills.
Looking after ourselves and feeling as physically well as possible contributes to the development of confidence, positive self-esteem and wellbeing, and therefore recovery. We encourage and support Service users to attend to their physical healthcare needs. We support people to make and attend appointments with doctors, the dentist, opticians etc. and discuss issues such as diet, exercise, smoking cessation and alcohol consumption.
Developing the ability to manage our finances and live within our means is an important life skill that many of us find challenging. We support individuals to claim the state benefits that they are entitled to, and encourage them to develop a budget plan that works for them. Many of our Service users are able to manage their own money, and we are able to take on corporate appointeeship for those who are not ready to do so.
The homes we have are relatively small, providing accommodation for between 3 and 8 service users, which we believe maintains a more homely and pleasant atmosphere. Support workers and Service users have always worked together to create and maintain each home, and all Service users are encouraged to be involved with the tasks necessary to achieve this. These include:
- Making choices about what to eat each day – either it will be communal meals that are agreed and eaten by staff and Service users together, or ‘self catering’ days where a Service user will choose meals that they prepare for just themselves. We believe that individual and group meals utilise and develop different but equally useful skills.
- Shop for food and other household essentials, staying within the budget provided to each home. Basic records are maintained to keep track of the spending.
- Prepare meals safely (addressing food hygiene/health and safety issues) and clearing away afterwards.
- Personalising bedrooms and living space – choosing the colour scheme (and furnishings where possible) that reflects their style and taste.
- Washing and drying clothes and bedding.
- Cleaning and tidying the home.
Involvement can start at a very basic level, and will be developed during the placement, at a pace that is realistic yet manageable for each individual.
Independent living skills are not confined to domestic tasks and activities.
It must include having opportunities to make decisions that affect our lives and being able to pursue activities of our own choosing. Having an interesting and fulfilling lifestyle that offers opportunities for personal development and growth is integral to our vision of recovery.
Links with the local community are encouraged. For example, you can get involved in community projects, adult education classes, sports facilities and work experience schemes.
Everyone in the Community is involved in a broad range of activities run by the Community and outside providers. You would be expected to choose or even suggest and participate in a range of these as part of your agreed Care Plan. The Community offers a diverse range of activities, often tailored to meet specific needs and interests of individuals.
The Life We Live
Building consistent, trusting relationships
A Unique Path
There is an ethos of “Everyone is of value just as they are and nothing is too good for them”, this results in an atmosphere of total care.
Boundaried Relationships, Help & Learning
This Community has always believed that consistent, trusting, boundaried relationships between Service users and support workers are essential in creating an environment and atmosphere that enables and promotes recovery for individuals. Relational security underpins this process. Relational security involves establishing trust in order to create a safe and supportive environment that aims to empower the individual to take responsibility for managing their own recovery and move towards more independent living.
Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. This is made possible by the quality of the relationship between support workers and Service users. Trusting and consistent relationships create a safe space to discuss situations and explore our responses to them. Support workers can use their relationships with Service users to listen and encourage them to explore various courses of action. We also encourage reflective discussion after a situation has passed to support an individual in evaluating their reactions and its effectiveness – looking at what worked well and whether they would do anything differently if a similar situation arose again. Recognising the individual’s expertise gained through lived experience is integral to this process.
This organisation views seeking support from others as very ordinary and reasonable, and not as an admission of weakness or an indication of ‘not coping’ or failure. All too often, independence and independent living can be viewed as the ability to cope alone with any given situation. Very few, if any of us, are able, or would indeed choose, to live their lives without practical or emotional support from those around us.
Learning from each other is vital – Service users share their stories and offer support to each other – strength and confidence will grow from being able to offer advice to each other. Observing others around them overcoming their own challenges (as well as facing their own difficulties) offers opportunity for discussion, reflection and growth, and can diminish isolation and loneliness.
Moving towards goals and recognising their achievements is vital to developing resilience. The staff team work in collaboration with individuals to identify and prioritise goals, breaking them down into achievable steps, acknowledge success, building self-esteem and self-belief. This supports individuals in challenging their own potentially negative self-concept that can result from the experience of stigma and disempowerment. Developing confidence in our ability to solve problems and trusting our instincts helps build resilience and maintain a hopeful outlook.
Emotional resilience is more likely to grow when nurtured by an optimistic and inclusive atmosphere. Individuals are valued, and treated with dignity and respect. Achievements are acknowledged and celebrated, and future goals are agreed and worked upon collaboratively.
‘To provide opportunities for creative living through activity that embodies the ethos of the Community and meet the needs of the residents’
Well, what is it that makes The Community so unique? It enables people once again to grow into being people rather than patients. It helps them rediscover old skills and learn new skills. Its philosophy, that everyone is of value and has skills, creates an atmosphere of optimism and for many residents, for the first time in a very long time, suddenly all sorts of things are possible.
The Community prides itself on providing a diverse range of activities often tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of individuals.
We have our own Outdoor Activities and Art departments, providing a wide ranging programme including; archery, canoeing, caving, cycling, horse riding, walking, orienteering, rock climbing, surfing and abseiling. These may be organised locally or involve expeditions away. There are also many activities of an art and cultural nature involving music, drama, arts and crafts.
If nothing takes your fancy, we are always up for suggestions.
All activities are planned and supervised by fully qualified staff, in accordance with national governing body safety requirements. Where particular skills are not available within the Community, a reputable external provider is brought in to supervise and run the activity.
Further to our activities program Individuals are encouraged to make full use of the educational, cultural, sporting and social facilities available in the wider community.
If you wish to make an arrangement to attend religious services, of whatever denomination or faith, we are here to support you in that choice.
The Community will support you in maintaining friendships and family relationships, if you wish to. Visits are welcomed at your home or arrangements can be made to support trips to family and friends.
Totnes, Plymouth & the Communities within
In hospital, I was more sedated. I was asleep normally. It’s just a feeling where you haven’t got anywhere to go except there, just being there, depressed, so agitated, so angry, so furious why it happened to you, so down in the dumps that you can’t get out, can’t see any way forward. They should have more places like this, where it’s one-to-one, talking to you, gradually building you up into a state where you can be confident enough to carry on.
About Totnes & Plymouth
Totnes is an ancient market town and a river port in the South Hams area of South Devon. The Dart estuary is surrounded by much beautiful countryside. Dominated by the castle and church tower, Totnes is full of architectural interest and rich in history. The Community has a number of houses in Totnes, domestic in scale and close to all town amenities.
Access to Dartmoor could not be easier with all its attraction for recreational activities and the wildlife it has to offer. The South Hams coastline gives access to many beaches.
The town of Totnes is a vibrant market town that is steeped in history. Situated in a valley through which the River Dart passes on its way to the sea, this is a holiday area that offers excellent amenities and glorious countryside.
Whilst small, Totnes is a cosmopolitan town which has been heavily influenced by it’s proximity to Dartington College of Arts. The town has a very relaxed and accepting atmosphere, which makes is a very nice place to be.
A mainline railway station offers express access to London and easy access to the regional cities of Plymouth and Exeter, which are both about half an hour’s train journey away. There are regional airports at both cities offering domestic and international flights. The resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham are all within half an hour’s bus journey and the picturesque and rugged coastline of the South Hams is also within easy reach.
The town has a leisure centre and swimming pool and a good range of shops, cafes, pubs and wine bars. Being a holiday area, there is no shortage of accommodation for family and friends to stay in the town and surrounding area.
Plymouth, Britain’s “Ocean City”, is one of Europe’s most vibrant waterfront cities. Located by a stunning waterfront and harbor.
With fantastic views, and rich history it is a wonderful place to call home.
The Barbican and Sutton Harbour is one of Plymouth’s most popular places to visit, with quaint cobbled streets, a picturesque harbour and a wealth of independent shops, galleries, bars, cafes and restaurants along the water’s edge creating a metropolitan feel.
It’s also home to the Elizabethan House as well as the Mayflower Steps where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail on their voyage to the New World in 1620.
Plymouth Hoe is where Sir Francis Drake is renowned to have played his last game of bowls before his sailing voyage to engage with the Spanish Armada. Also home to the iconic Smeaton’s Tower, Tinside Lido, Royal Citadel and the city’s war memorials the Hoe a large open-space and jaw-dropping views.
Working towards independence and individual choice
Staff spoke highly of the people who lived in Priors Piece and praised their talents and personalities. Staff made comments such as “He is a lovely chap, hugely intelligent”, “He’s a poet, like no one you’ve ever met”, “He is excellent company” and “He is a very friendly and most likeable chap”.
The importance of social & working relationships
Living in the Community is about developing supportive, meaningful relationships with one another. You are encouraged to feel secure in voicing your suggestions and concerns, knowing you will be listened to.
Our high staffing ratios enable service users to pursue active, varied and fulfilling lifestyles that reflect their individual interests. People who live with us are able to participate in our Community’s programme of activities, which aims to offer something for everyone. Some examples of activities offered are moorland and coastal walks, cycling, surfing, caving, climbing, sailing and horse-riding. Also gentler pursuits such as singing, music and other creative arts and cookery are offered. All activities are led by appropriately qualified people.
In addition to these activities, people are supported in pursuing individual hobbies and interests. Some examples include education with both academic and vocational subjects being studied and also visits to cinemas and theatres, dining out, playing snooker and help with gaining work experience or pursuing other cultural or religious interests.
Domesticity also plays an important part in Community life, the Community doesn’t employ cooks or cleaners for the houses. The people who live with us and staff work together to keep the house and gardens tidy and clean. Shopping and meal preparation are also shared with a strong emphasis on teamwork.
The primary aims of The Community in supporting those in our care include the following:
- To offer care and rehabilitation in a safe, structured, domestic environment.
- To create an atmosphere in which problems and disabilities cease to be the defining elements.
- To make possible a natural integration with normal society.
- To promote autonomy, self-determination and freedom of action.
- To encourage a genuine and equal social interaction between staff and residents.
- To create an environment that promotes individual personality and does not de-personalise individuals.
Most people have come from some form of institutional support but their problems and experience can be very different. What unites everyone is the desire to move on and get on with their life – living again with the ordinary dynamics of life, living together with people and all the interaction and support that goes with that, relating to each other as equals, exercising choices and coping with responsibilities that come with it.