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
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How our employees champion our ethos
People’s relatives also stated they felt people were safe. One relative said “Her safety always comes into everything” and “A great deal of consideration is taken for her safety”.
The Community operates within a management structure with clear lines of communication and accountability. The various departments within this structure arrange for the provision of care and support systems, allocation of and management of staff teams and arrangements for staff recruitment, training and supervision in accordance with relevant government guidance and management practice.
The extended shift system operates a rota where staff live in alongside residents, sharing in all domestic and recreational activities for two to three days at a time. We find this system provides the unique dynamic between staff and residents where usual categorisation between groups is diminished and the therapeutic advantage of relating to individuals as equals is created.
The Community does not employ psychiatric nurses but employs people from a broad range of backgrounds, who have the qualities and characteristics that provide the environment to implement the Community’s philosophy. Their skills and knowledge are developed through a programme of induction and ongoing training, to and above the requirements of the nationally recognised Care Qualifications. Employees come from both graduate and non-graduate backgrounds and often move on to careers in nursing and social work as well as post-graduate study.
The Community works with a specialised client group in an innovative and creative way. Staff receive a thorough training in the practices of the Community and a knowledge of disabilities and specific conditions, which enables them to meet individual needs and deal with the broad range of associated behaviour, including understanding physical and verbal aggression and self-harm. Appreciation of and an ability to balance the particular and changing needs of individual’s care is guided through the process of care planning, with ongoing monitoring and assessment.
The Community has a strong, settled and cohesive residential staff team of around 80 people. The Community has a high staff to resident ratio, to meet individual needs and ensure that support is uninterrupted and consistent.
Where appropriate, specialist services are secured from relevant professionals to support the assessed needs where required.
The Community operates a thorough recruitment procedure based on equal opportunities whilst ensuring the protection of residents. New staff are confirmed in post only after the Community have received references and on completion of satisfactory Disclosure Barring Service checks (DBS). All staff receive training on issues of Safeguarding.
Residents are involved in staff selection and their feedback on the care provision is encouraged and supported.
The Life We Live
Building consistent, trusting relationships
A Unique Path
I cannot speak highly enough about Prior’s Piece. They have turned the life around of one of my service users.
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.
Totnes, Plymouth & the Communities within
My brother was very active before his illness being a keen scout, walker and cyclist, and has really thrived on the physical activities and social interaction that are such an integral part of the Community’s ethos. Prior to joining the Community, he made little or no progress at all and regressed on a number of occasions. I believe it remains unique in the country in this aspect of treatment for mental illness and his record since moving to Totnes speaks for itself about the benefits for him.
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
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.
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.
In the Community we believe in the dignity of every human being, however vulnerable.
I cannot praise them enough, this place should be cloned.
We are wary of religious descriptions of the Community but it should be said that what is so different about it originates in a theological understanding of people and a deep concern with the inherent dignity of every human being, however vulnerable.
We work with people coming from situations of legal or physical constraint. Our principle resource in this consists in restoring to them the ordinary dynamics of domestic life, self-support and human interaction. In this context the issues of relating to others as equals, the exercise of rights and choices and the recognition of responsibilities are fundamental.
The Community is not an alternative to other treatments, but offers a different setting in which conventional treatments can work.
We believe that one of the key motivations of human life is enjoyment. We thus put a great emphasis on our wide range of activities that are social, cultural and educational. This is enhanced by our Outdoor Activities programme, which seeks to provide adventure and fun as well as fostering physical health.
In a society which lays tremendous importance on employment, we seek to encourage preparation for work. Even where self support through employment will never be possible, it is vital that people have the opportunity to contribute. An example of this is our ten year relationship with the National Trust in work projects of lasting importance and of a high standard, in which those involved can take real pride.
Fulfilment and happiness are the rights of everyone. By providing a rich and varied life style in a supportive and caring environment, we aim to make this ideal a reality.