Rachel (29), who has learning difficulties and complex health needs, lives at a residential home in Strood run by Regard, the fourth largest private specialist care-provider in the UK.
Andy Jupp, who manages Kingsdown House, said: “Rachel is so happy that we’ve managed to support her to re-establish contact with her friends.
“It took some detective work by us to track the couple down. They were a big part of Rachel’s early life and it means a lot to her that they have started meeting up again.
“We’ve seen a much smilier Rachel over the last six weeks. She says she values these friends as much as she would a biological family. She’s been on trips to the cinema with them, and out for a Chinese meal, and she loves having the chance to play with their two young sons.”
The recent reunion is just a part of the support strategy Andy and his team at Kingsdown House have brought into play to improve Rachel’s quality of life.
She has been supported to attend Mid Kent College in Rochester where she did an Independent Living Course which, among other things, has enabled her to start cooking for herself – as well as preparing the occasional ‘house’ lunch – and to take responsibility for her personal care.
Pottery classes, also at Mid Kent College, are a continuing passion, and Andy said she has produced some genuinely beautiful pieces including, recently, a glazed dish and a convincing model cow.
Rachel said: “I love my pottery sessions and the friends I’ve made there. We talk on the phone between classes, and we all enjoy being creative at college.”
Andy Jupp said: “Her friends are really important to Rachel, which is why we were so happy when we rediscovered her special family friends.
“She’s also a very capable young woman and we’re working hard to give her a chance to develop her skills. Recently she worked with us to decorate her bedroom and she’s really thrilled with the results. The ownership of projects like this is so important to Rachel and the other individuals we support.”
A big music fan, Rachel recently went with her senior support worker Natasha Boyle to one of the Olly Murs concerts at the O2 Arena.
“It was amazing,” she said.
For Andy Jupp, Rachel’s expressions of happiness are a reward in itself.
“Our job is to ensure the people we support live the best lives they can,” he said. “We know we’re delivering the kind of service we set out to when the people we support feedback that they’re loving life.”
Regard, the organisation behind Kingsdown House, provides supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury, and cares for more than 1,100 people, with a dedicated staff of over 2,200 across 149 locations throughout the UK.