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Learning to live in the adult world at Donec Mews

11th November 2022

Leaving a residential school with its rules and routines has been a challenge for Alice and the staff in her new home, Donec Mews.

Alice has just turned 20 and she moved into our Surrey care home Donec Mews just over a year ago, after attending a local residential school. Routine is very important to Alice and so the transition from the structured life at school to the very different adult world at Donec Mews was a huge challenge for her.

Service manager Karen told us “When Alice was at school, she had one to one support, so somebody was with her all the time she was awake. That’s not the case here, so having that freedom suddenly was a big change that Alice had to adjust to.

Everything was new for her. She moved into a home with three other people, all of whom were a bit older. She’s had to learn how to feel at home here and to share her life with these new people and to learn to build relationships with them.

“It’s been a real challenge for us as a staff team too. A time of transition is difficult for everyone, but for someone with a learning disability and autism, it can be a very scary time. It was so vital that we quickly got to know Alice and support her to communicate her needs and wishes – so she can tell us what she wants and anything that is upsetting her. Alice can communicate verbally a little, but we’ve put in place other methods, using technology for example, so this year has been learning about Alice and what she wants and needs and how best to support her to express that. It’s a continual journey of learning with all our residents, not just Alice.”

“Chris from our practice development team came here to observe us supporting Alice, and to give us feedback and suggestions, and that was really useful. It’s about us understanding what she’s trying to tell us with her behaviour, so that’s what we need to understand better going forward. We want to help her grow into her new world with all the choices and experiences she can embrace.

Now Alice has settled in, she is attending On Track, our local day service, and just like any young woman, she enjoys socialising, but sometimes she just wants to sit in her pyjamas and watch TV on a Saturday morning. It is our job to support her to make those choices and live the life she chooses, but where she can embrace opportunity.

If working with people like Alice would inspire you then you can join the team at Donec Mews.

Karen said: “We are looking for more caring and creative people to join my team. It doesn’t matter if you have worked in care or not – if you are determined to make a difference, we want to hear from you.”