Judy A moved into Ivers House in the village of Marnhull near Shaftesbury in 2010. The service specialises in supporting people with learning difficulties.
Service manager Gina Markham said: “Judy made a lot of friends at Ivers and has been an active member of our community for the past six years, so when she was diagnosed with dementia and suffered a rapid decline in health we were all very sad about it.”
At meetings which included Judy’s brother, social worker and an independent advocate, Judy’s needs were discussed, as well as the impact on the other three ladies with whom she shared a home.
Gina said: “It was a tough decision, but we all agreed that a move to a service with the equipment and experience to support the unique needs of a person with a learning disability and dementia was in Judy’s best interests.
“Our focus then became providing a sensitive, smooth and caring transition for her. We’re going to miss her so much, but our objective is to provide dedicated person-centred care, and what was right for Judy was what Judy got.”
Unfortunately during the transition process Judy suffered a stroke and had to be admitted to hospital.
For some weeks it was touch and go, but Judy rallied and got stronger again. It was agreed that it would be more sensitive for Judy to go to her new placement from hospital to avoid any distress that a brief return to Ivers might cause her.
And here – according to all involved – is where the Ivers team really came into their own: supporting Judy when she was in hospital, accompanying her when she underwent tests and procedures, bringing her iPad so she could watch her favourite films and making sure the nursing staff had all the necessary information about her at their disposal.
When the new placement was confirmed the team put together a memory book crammed full of photos of Judy with her brother, her friends and her support staff team, showing her enjoying parties, holidays, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
Gina said: “The team took everything to the new home in advance so that when Judy arrived she would see things she knew and which had meaning for her – her toy cat, cuddly dog, photos of her brother, her favourite blanket and nightdress, quilt cover and toiletries.”
A staff member from Ivers accompanied Judy in the hospital transport, reassuring her and supplying her favourite snacks for the three-hour journey. Another followed in the car with the rest of Judy’s personal belongings.
On the journey her support worker team showed Judy photos she had taken of her new room, the house she was moving to and the manager of the home, to familiarise her with her new environment before she arrived.
After settling Judy into her new room, both members of the Ivers House team stayed locally for the night, putting the needs of Judy before those of their own families. This enabled them to see her again the morning after her first night in a strange place and give the support and reassurance that she needed and deserved.
The memory book was given to the new team so they could get to know Judy and look at the photos with her to encourage interaction.
Back at Ivers House, staff shared with Judy’s old friends the photos of her new home so they could see where their friend had moved to.
Gina Markham said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the way my team have supported Judy. They acted with such compassion and humanity, and were an absolute credit to our organisation.”
Judy’s brother, Charles A said: “I would like to say a huge thank you for supporting Judy so brilliantly over the past six years and for making her move run so smoothly. Providing staff to travel with her and to help her to settle in to her new home was really doing that extra something and is very much appreciated.”
Ivers House is run by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest private organisation providing supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury. The service currently has two vacancies, one in the main house annexe and one in an adjacent bungalow.
Service users are involved in a day programme tailored to their individual needs. Facilities include an internet/computer suite, a kitchen for cookery lessons and healthy living groups, arts and crafts facilities and a drama room. Animal care and horticultural activities also take place in Ivers’ four-acre grounds.