A self-confessed Scrabble fanatic from Ceredigion is spelling out her support for charity with a sponsored match to raise money for people with mental health problems.
Jo Styles who lives at Caeronnen supported living service in the seaside village of Llangrannog has been taking on support staff on behalf of the charity MIND.
The 69-year-old former driving instructor loves nothing better than taking on all-comers with her astonishing mastery of words.
Said Katie Owen, who leads the team at Caeronnen: “Although Jo needs practical help and guidance to lead the life she chooses, she is nevertheless an unbelievably intelligent lady and pretty much knows everything about everything.
“Playing Scrabble on a regular basis really helps to keep her mind agile, and is the kind of activity that can give great pleasure to people with autism and dementia.”
Jo moved to her new home three months ago from a service in Aberystwyth and is very much involved with her support team to ensure they meet her needs.
Caeronnen provides support for adults with autism, Asperger syndrome, learning difficulties, mental health issues or acquired brain injury.
It is run by Regard, a Gold award-winner in the most recent Wales Care Awards and the UK’s fourth largest private organisation providing specialist supported living services like Caeronnen, as well as residential services.
Katie Owen said: “We provide individuals with complex needs with their own team so they can develop quality relationships with those who support them, and we’re experienced in managing challenging behaviours.
“Twenty-four hour background staffing is provided, to enable us to provide the necessary support for the people who live with us and encourage them to develop their life skills.”
Caeronnen is based in a detached bungalow split into two accommodation areas, both of which have their own kitchen, bathroom and lounge/dining area, with shared use of the communal facilities and private bedrooms for each individual living there.
Regard is currently spearheading a national campaign to raise the profile of person-centred care which means promoting the importance of each person as an individual, treating them with respect and being mindful of their desires, even where there are communications difficulties.
Katie said: “In practice this means we are doing things with people, rather than ‘to’ them, ensuring for example that Jo can choose books she’ll enjoy reading, including her favourite subject – human evolution – which she’s passionately interested in.
“It’s also a high priority for Jo to have the opportunity to view and debate the seasonal sports on TV, such as the Euros – she’s enthusiastically supporting Wales – and Wimbledon.”
Regard’s service users are involved in all aspects of their support, from the recruitment of staff through to day-to-day matters.
The organisation now supports more than 1,100 people, with a dedicated staff of over 2,100 people working at 147 locations throughout the UK, and MIND is one of 10 charities of the year chosen by the people work for Regard nationwide.