"Even car cleaning can be an activity! Just need to get him working on ours now!"
I have an adult son who goes to a Day Centre 4 days a week gives him a much-needed break from us, and a break for us too of course!
Stuart attends MacIntyre Life Learning Centre, in Kennington, Oxford.
They support a large age range of people with varying abilities and disabilities. They provide a large range of activities from life skills to film club, gardening, pool table and computers to use.
Stu has made some great friends in the last 7 years, and life has remained stable for him and others because of the excellent support mechanism, a Manager who has been there some years herself now and has a genuine interest in each and every person who attends.
As an adult with learning disabilities life can be tough at the best of times.
Stuart may not always be aware of things that we do in the background to support him in his independence; such as annual (ish) reviews to check his current care plan meets with his needs, but there are more mundane things - helping him in his choice of lifestyle, clothing to learning that clothes need a wash, loading the washer and learning things do not magically re-appear clean and laundered ready for use. Finances, money doesn’t grow on any tree! The Day Centre costs each month so is budgeted for along with anything else. Sometimes we must save for things, and that is another skill we try to teach.
Macintyre’s support him, teaching life skills at a level and pace he can work within. Always working on his strengths and supporting his weaknesses. Anything that needs sharing between us and them is done so often over a phone call and chat and on occasions a face to face chat, (not so easy though in Covidland.) The Day Centre was closed from March during the height of the virus. Behind the scenes they have been working away to get users and supporters and staff back in stages to the centre.
During the time they were closed we had regular calls to check how he was and how we were doing. Offers to do shopping for us all if needs be, and to just pick up the phone. Their care went past Stuart and to the needs of us as a family. We were in lock down like many due to additional health reasons. Stuart generally understood why he couldn’t attend, and had his moments which am sure like many of us did, including moaning, a few choice words on the virus, but the weeks rolled into months well.
Having started back last week he has settled into the new regime, supported by fantastic staff explaining why they wear what they do, why he has a mask and such like.
We lost the title of parents years ago once he was put under the label of special needs and has ‘an illness’ on official forms. Well the “illness” as often called, is a disability, and for him is lifelong. We have often questioned why the use of this term “illness” as sadly there will never be a miracle cure and his ‘illnesses be cured!
MacIntyre have various services on offer from residential to Day Centres employment, children services and things in between. We were introduced to them via a Care Manager from Social Services following one of the annual (ish) reviews - “He can’t just sit at home and watch TV! He needs an interest. A break from us and just a life!”
Following the usual issues about budgets and entitlements we managed to get from what thought was to be 2 days a week to 4 days. Yes, costs more but is a huge benefit to him and gives us that time and few hours to catch up on things, make own appointments or just chill and do nothing if we want!
He is off enjoying all sorts - helping cook lunch, going to Garden Centres. Bingo is another favourite which he enjoys and if wins he gets some sweets. He enjoys telling us about this, but has eaten his winnings long before getting home!
What does Stuart make of his time at MacIntyre?
Ask him have you had a good day, Yes, he replies. So, what you done then son? Nothing he says! So, you sat looking at the walls then for a few hours?! Yep he says!
Of course, we know otherwise, and he has had a good day doing things he enjoys, learns things and socialises and helps others less able bodied to himself.He is known to be helpful and caring and if not there for some reason is often greatly missed.