Michelle Docwa, Housing Officer, Assist Trust
At Assist Trust increasing independence for our members is at the centre of our practice. We believe that we are all equal citizens and that everyone has the right to access the same opportunities as everyone else.
Assist Trust promotes a supported living model of care through enabling our members to have as much independence in their homes as possible. Our housing team locate appropriate accommodation and members work on their daily living skills during group time. When in their new home, members are supported by external agencies and are able to put to use the skills they have developed at Assist Trust. Nicole, one of our members who lives in an Assist Trust property said, “I can do my own clothes washing, which is something I learned to do at Assist Trust.”
Our staff provide the support required at first and then gradually remove that support as it becomes unnecessary. This is a dynamic process and support can be fully reintegrated if required.
Assist Trust are keen to find accommodation for our members which puts their independence at the forefront. We look for properties which are on good bus routes, have easy access to nearby food shops, and which will allow the members to be safe and secure in their home. Nicole said, “It’s useful having a supermarket over the road. I go there quite often. There’s a pub up the road and I have my lunch there some days. I was travel trained to get the bus to Assist Trust in the mornings.”
Assist Trust’s model for supported living ensures that adults with learning disabilities are fully integrated into their local community. They are a visible neighbour, engaging with local amenities, and taking their rightful place as members of society.
We encourage our members to aim high and we put in place all the support we can to help members achieve their goals. Tommy has found groups at Assist Trust useful in giving him greater independence at home. “I always iron my shirts now and I do my own cooking. I learned in groups how to do that. I use a dishwasher after practicing at Assist Trust.”
By treating adults as adults we take an enthusiastic and positive approach to supporting our members. We try to challenge them to set high but realistic targets and support them to increase their self-confidence in the realisation of those targets. Together we build self-belief and resilience.
As well as the groups which are run at Assist Trust there is also a dedicated work team which looks for housing opportunities. Using focused outcome plans which are updated regularly, members of the housing team are able to identify those members who have expressed a desire to progress towards independent living. We also keep in close contact with parents and guardians and the local council to ensure that all stake holders’ viewpoints are heard. This collaborative process is critical to attaining the greatest impact for our members’ progression.
One of our members, Harry, said, “Michelle was good. She spoke to me a lot and she was supportive. She spoke to my parents a lot, too. The house I live in now isn’t too far to walk to my parents’ houses.”
It is vital to ensure that all care-givers for our members are supported to work towards the same goals.
By centring our member’s needs, Assist Trust supports them to use and elevate their voice and determine how they want to engage with the community. Our focused work teams then work with the member to ensure that they are seen, heard, and valued by society.