Change For The Better At Drake House

Susan Ramsden and Joanne Jago

Being involved in planning the décor and furnishings of their new home has been the key to a stress-free relocation for three Plymouth women with learning disabilities and mental health issues.


Their new city-centre supported living service, Drake House, has been a ten-month labour of love by care-providers the Regard Group to ensure its refurbishment would meet the needs of the people who would live there.


They also liaised closely with the Plymouth City Council’s care managers throughout the project.


Kelly Floyd, team leader for Regard, said: “Moving house can be a very stressful experience, but we were intent on this being a happy move for the people we support, and because we consulted them every step of the way their relocation was a less overwhelming and more controlled event.


“Change can be challenging for any of us, and maybe more so for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues, so we were determined to include them in any decisions that would affect their lives.


“It’s about respecting people’s individual needs and wants, so they feel they have a proper investment in the place they call home.


“Our ladies have willingly contributed their ideas for colour schemes and furnishings in the house, as well as the planting scheme and layout of the garden, which is still a work in progress at the moment.”


One of the new inhabitants of Drake House, Joanne Jago, transferred to Regard 14 years ago from a residential home where she had required two-to-one care. With support to develop her personal skills she has now progressed sufficiently to enjoy a supported living environment with a tailored care package.


The secret of happiness for Joanne was to have red as the dominant theme in her bedroom, and she is delighted with the result, and enjoying showing her new home off to her family, who live nearby, and her boyfriend and other friends.


House-mate Susan Ramsden came to Regard two years ago from a large residential setting and is thriving in a smaller environment, regularly going on outings and taking part in household activities, whereas in her previous placement she was a reluctant participant.


Kelly Floyd said: “Susan is non-verbal so we communicate through Makaton. It has been so lovely to see her blossom in the two years she has been with us. She’s become very house-proud and is great at cooking and cleaning – she simply loves her new room at Drake House.


“Susan is also very sociable and enjoys going out to meet people and volunteering at a local BHF shop.


“Both women are keen gardeners, and they’re looking forward to planting and weeding the new borders when the weather warms up a bit.”


Drake House offers the people who live there a very person-centred approach, tailored to the needs of each individual, and is staffed by an experienced and enthusiastic team.


The service focuses on developing people’s confidence and encouragement to make decisions, understand their rights and responsibilities, and become more involved with their local community.


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