Realising the Potential of Extra Care Housing
Martin Routledge, Helen Sanderson and Sharon Wilton
Pete had a passion for dogs – he had them as pets throughout his childhood, had trained them during his time in the armed forces and had worked with them in sheepdog trials for many years. Many years passed and Pete came to live in an extra care housing tenancy, where to be honest, not much was going on until a new support provider took over and the council supported them to embed community circles. Sharon met him there and talked to him about the things he loved. Together they explored various ways for him to spend time with dogs. They looked at volunteering with a local animal shelter, made links to a national organisation where Pete could spend time with people’s dogs whist they were at work etc. While waiting for a match Sharon thought about the importance of “bringing your whole self to work”. She had a dog, Sam at home – could Pete borrow her dog?
Pete had found himself in real rut, frankly fed up, but now he was getting up in the morning, where previously he would stay in bed for most of the day. He was suddenly active spending time outdoors with Sam, where he would now sit chatting to others who lived in the same group of flats. Pete had a support worker who couldn’t believe the change in him noting that on his last few visits Pete had only spent about 5% of his time talking previous issues and the rest of the time talking about dogs. Staff members began to explore how they could build on this – maybe they could bring own their dogs to work so people living in the tenancies who wanted to spend time with dogs could do so? What else like this could they do?
Pete’s personality now really shone through – he had always been a sociable bloke with good memories of his time in the forces. He spoke fondly to others about those days and along with three other local veterans a Veteran’s Circle was formed. The four guys met regularly to chat, reminisce, have a laugh and support each other. The guys were then linked to the local Veterans hub who offered additional support and also invited them to join them for fishing tournaments and Veterans breakfasts.
To some this might not sound like that big a deal maybe? But for Pete it was really a life saver and it wasn’t happening before Sharon brought some approaches and ideas and supported the staff team to do this stuff. By keeping an absolute focus on what mattered to Pete as an individual, and by thinking about how we can “do what we can, with what we have, where we are”, Sharon showed individual and group Circles can not only get going but can flourish, grow and sustain. This brought all sorts of resources to bear that were left unused before.
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