That’s the view of Shelley Berry, Registered Manager of Cottam Road, a scheme which supports people with learning disabilities.
Cottam Road used to be a registered care home but two years ago, Sheffield City Council started a process of changing it, along with nine other homes, into ‘supported living’ settings for people with learning disabilities.
This meant people living there became tenants not residents, gained access to disability benefits instead of having a small weekly allowance, and had individual assessments for their care needs.
It’s now six months since the last home changed over and the council is looking back at what’s changed.
Shelley, who works for Community Integrated Care, says the changes meant that people’s care hours increased, more support workers were recruited and people spend more their time going out and about. Tenants now go out shopping, swimming, to sports clubs and “do the things they want to do and the things they need to do, whereas it was always so difficult to arrange before.”
She added: “Everyone here can make their own choices, even people who aren’t able to communicate verbally and have to do it through others.
“It’s about encouraging people to do things for themselves. It’s a change of ethos from people having things done for them, but it’s so much better.”
Cottam Road’s tenants include Joyce Miles, a 57 year old woman who used to live with her mum but moved there seven years ago. Joyce’s carer Stella Bullimore talks about how Joyce enjoys the theatre, going out for dinner, swimming and shopping. They have spent a lot of time together helping Joyce get fitter and lose weight, before she bought a sundress which is something she wanted to do for a while.
Stella said: “We have more scope to work with people individually rather than always doing things as a group. People have more choices about what they take part in and they’re doing more for themselves. Joyce now does the dusting and she tidies her room, so people do chores as well as all the nice things.”
Tenant Joanne Ned said: “It’s terrific, a really good atmosphere. We go out swimming, to bingo, shopping. I’ve done a lot since I came here. I like it here.”
Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “People in supported living are doing more than they used to and they, and their support workers, say that things are much better for them. That’s exactly why we made the change and it’s great to hear the stories from Cottam Road and the other schemes.
“I know people were apprehensive when the changes were made and I completely understand this. But what we’re trying to do is give people with learning disabilities more opportunities, and this is something we’re trying to do across all of our services.”
Sheffield City Council will soon be re-tendering its supported living contracts. More information will be available on www.sheffield.gov.uk.