One of the UK’s top care providers has named a new service after a council worker who delayed her retirement to support a group of people with learning disabilities.
The Regard Group has named Wakeling House, near Mildenhall, Suffolk, after Jan Wakeling, who worked for Suffolk County Council for more than 33 years.
She had been due to retire in November 2016 but delayed that until June 2017 so that she could support the people who would be living there to move into their new homes.
Jan was invited back to their home for an open day earlier this month.
Wakeling House is a supported living service for adults with learning disabilities and/ or autism which has three large ground-floor en-suite rooms with extra living space and three, first-floor, en-suite rooms.
Helen Petitdemange, Regard’s Customer Service Manager (East), said Suffolk County Council approached Regard to develop the service after a housing association had pulled out.
She said: “Jan delayed her retirement to work with us to see the project finished and support the individuals who would be moving into Wakeling House.
“Jan knew the individuals and their families well and I worked in partnership with her to carry out all the relevant assessments, and to make sure that we personalised each person’s living area.”
The Regard Group has worked hard to tailor the accommodation to individual’s needs and preferences, in order to make them feel it is a home from home.
Helen explained: “We have one lady who loves the colour red, so we ensured that we put as many red items in as possible, from the microwave and kitchen utensils to red blinds and towels.
“Hopefully this will really make it feel like it is her home.
“We have a man who likes aeroplanes, so we chose a room with a view and a seating area near the patio doors, so he can clearly watch all the planes that fly overhead.
“We had curtains made especially with planes on them.
“We have a man who is a fan of Thomas The Tank Engine, so we have had Thomas-themed blinds and curtains made for his room.
“We have one lady who likes very feminine colours, so her home has been decorated in pinks and purples, including the curtains, bedding and even a purple double sofa.
“All those living in Wakeling House were given a choice to have, where possible, a bath or a walk in wet room.
“One man was keen to have his own washing machine, so we have added one into a cupboard in his room.
“We’ve worked hard to personalise the rooms to match what the individuals want and need in order to feel as comfortable and happy as possible at Wakeling House, and we’re very proud of what we offer here.”
Helen added: “We worked closely with Jan and her team, and we thought it would be appropriate to name the service Wakeling House as a tribute to her to honour her perseverance and hard work on the project.”
Jan Wakeling’s last role with the County Council was to develop bespoke Supported Housing for people with Learning Disabilities or Autism.
She and her team developed over 14 new schemes and supported over 76 customers, many from out of county, to move into their own home and to be close to their families. Wakeling House was her last project before retiring.
She said she was “highly honoured and extremely proud” when told that the service would be named after her, and she was very impressed with the refurbishment work carried out by Regard.