Marian’s daughter, Rachel, lived in a hospital for 15 years with 25 other people.
Rachel doesn’t speak. She loves life, she is totally absorbed by the world around her but she doesn’t like following rules.
In the hospital everything was regimented. Everyone got up at the same time. Everyone was washed at the same time and everyone went to the day centre at the same time.
Rachel hated being ordered around.
The most demanding people in the hospital received most of the attention and so Rachel only had one-to-one support when Marian saw her. Marian would come to visit several times a week and together they would ‘escape’ and leave the hospital to go on trips.
When they returned Rachel would be upset and not want her mum to leave. Rachel would shut herself away and only come out of her room when she was made to.
Eventually, after the Winterbourne View scandal, the hospital was closed down and Marian began researching living options for Rachel.
With help from Dimensions Marian found a bungalow for Rachel which she now owns. In the hospital environment Rachel had significant amounts of challenging behaviour but this has now all but disappeared.
Rachel is supported by permanent staff who she chose and who she has grown very close to.
She has an action packed diary full of the activities she enjoys from meals out to swimming and wheelchair cycling.
Now that Rachel can make her own choices and have them respected, she is much happier.
Her staff team have worked with speech and language therapists to develop a detailed communication passport so that they know what Rachel wants even though she can’t speak.
When Rachel wants to eat she will stand by the kitchen table and when she wants to wash she will sit on the bath. This has made a huge difference as Rachel is much less frustrated by people not understanding what she wants.
The cost of choice and control
Giving people with learning disabilities choice and control, a home in the community and an active life is not more expensive.
In fact, supported living is less expensive than keeping people in hospitals. There is consensus – amongst families and professionals alike – that people with learning disabilities should not be living in hospital settings.