Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

From personal challenge to empowering change in supported living

Liz Salsbury, Founder, Better Lives Supported Living

In the world of care and support for individuals with learning disabilities (LD) and autism, one story stands out for its compassion, determination, and transformative impact. This is the story of Liz, a former solicitor, and her husband who turned their family struggle into a supported living vision for those with learning disability and autism.

Liz ventured into the realms of supported living to make a difference. Her journey, marked by personal experiences and a deep desire and passion to improve the lives of those in need, led to the founding of Better Lives Supported Living.

Liz’s story began in her childhood when her parents adopted two children with LD and autism. Her family’s experience was marked by a struggle to find adequate supported living services. In their mid-twenties, they were both placed in the only suitable provider available, located approximately an hour away from the family’s home in Maidstone. This distance was a significant challenge, especially as Liz’s parents aged, both reaching their 80s and finding it increasingly difficult to drive.

Her sister started expressing a desire to be closer to home and her mum and dad, as visits were not as frequent as everyone would have liked and contact was somewhat limited due to the distance. Several house moves from her rented accommodation added to the distress, for Liz’s sister for whom stability is crucial. These moves were so traumatising that she often returned home in tears, reluctant to go back.

Witnessing this, Liz and her husband reached a critical decision point and asked “Why don’t we do something about it?” This pivotal moment, fuelled by a mix of frustration and compassion, led to a transformative journey. The seeds for Better Lives Supported Living were sown, fast forward three years, and the idea that sprouted from this challenging situation began to take real shape, culminating in the creation of Better Lives Supported Living.

Having no background in social care, Liz’s extensive experience as a solicitor in both child and adult protection gave her a unique perspective on the needs of vulnerable individuals. Determined to provide a stable and fulfilling life for her adopted siblings, Liz and her husband decided to purchase a property, ensuring it would be a ‘forever home’ for her sister. This decision marked the birth of Better Lives Supported Living. Liz embarked on a learning journey, navigating the complexities of setting up a care and property business, complying with the stringent CQC regulations, undertaking required qualifications and establishing a high standard of care and support. Soon after the move her brother visited and decided he too would like to move back home after seeing the extensive activities his sister was undertaking and the wonderful life she was now leading. Liz and her husband purchased a second property for him to live in.

Under Liz’s leadership, the company has flourished, and recently she was recognised at the Kent Care Awards winning the Kent Supported Living Registered Manager of the Year 2023 award. The residents, including Liz’s siblings, thrive in an environment that prioritises outstanding person centred care and support, personal care support, social activities within the local community and independence. The positive feedback from professionals and the community has fuelled the expansion of the business, leading to the acquisition of more properties and the ability to support more individuals.

As Better Lives Supported Living continues to grow, Liz envisions a future where she can focus more on advocacy for LD adults and systemic change while ensuring the business maintains its personalised, high-quality care.

Now with her husband taking a more active role in the business, Liz aims to influence broader change in the sector, driven by her passion and first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with LD and autism.

Liz’s journey from a concerned family member to a visionary leader in supported living exemplifies how personal challenges can transform into impactful solutions. Better Lives Supported Living isn’t just a business; it’s a testament to the power of empathy, perseverance, and the belief that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling life.

Kirsty

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