Hearing from Stephen, Service Manager at Beeches Supported Housing

This week at Richmond Fellowship we are shining a light on our Supported Housing services. Supported housing is where we started over 60 years ago. We now have a wide range of mental health services but continue to pioneer and develop our supported housing services. Our supported housing provides people with a real home as well as access to support from Richmond Fellowship’s team of highly trained recovery worker.

Today we are hearing from Stephen, Service Manager at Beeches Supported Housing in Liverpool. ‘The Beeches’ has been supporting people with mental ill health for over 30 years. So, what’s it like in one of Richmond Fellowship’s longest running Supported Housing services? We spoke with Stephen to find out!

Why do you enjoy working at ‘The Beeches’ Supported Housing?

I enjoy working in a supported housing because I feel that the positive relationships that can be built between staff and residents can form a very solid foundation for recovery. I believe working within supported housing enables a closer, personal relationship with residents, identifying daily routines, personal preferences, personal and group needs. It is a real joy to support a person and see their recovery journey progress in a positive way.

What does a day to day look like in a Supported Housing?

A day in a supported housing would usually consist of supporting residents with taking their prescribed medication and accurately recording daily events within resident’s case notes, checking on resident’s welfare. Liaising with GP’s and Community Mental Health Teams, liaising with referral agencies, speaking with family and friends of residents, accompanying residents to go shopping or to medical appointments. We also support residents to prepare meals, do laundry, clean rooms, and other general life skills. Our recovery workers also accompany residents to supported day service activities or simply take residents on a cultural walk or a visit to the seaside or any other activity that promotes health and wellbeing.

How does a Supported Housing positively impact someone on their recovery journey?

Supported housing positively impacts a person’s recovery journey because of our staff. The opportunity to develop a positive working relationship with residents, underpinned with professionalism, respect and a desire on the part of the staff member to go the extra mile and make a real difference to the person we support’s recovery.

What has the Beeches been up to recently?

Our service ‘The Beeches’ recently took residents on a day out to Llandudno in North Wales which residents enjoyed immensely, rounded off with some pub grub! Our residents have also supported the RSPCA in the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ documenting all the different bird species that visit our beautiful garden and reporting the finding to the RSPCA, further to this, residents have sourced recyclable materials and constructed ‘Bird boxes’ for our garden. Hopefully in the future we shall see some nesting birds take up residence!

How did your service delivery change during the pandemic and what did you learn from it?

Our service delivery changed during the pandemic as we had to be more inventive. We had to look for activities which residents and staff could do which kept people safe and met with Covid-19 restrictions. This limited our opportunities to engage with external support programmes but enhanced the opportunity to develop internal activities. We started movie nights, communal meals, the development of a monthly magazine ‘The Beeches Bugle’ which focussed on health and wellbeing, word search, trivia, poems and stories from residents.

I suppose that the learning we took from delivering support during the pandemic is that it is possible to be more inventive with ideas to promote recovery in different ways, and not to take for granted the many options available to work in partnership to support our residents.

What would you say to someone thinking about working in a Supported Housing?

Do It!! It is very rewarding to work in a supported housing service. It gives you the opportunity to work in a person-centred way, supporting residents with their daily tasks, whether that’s taking medication, attending appointments, going shopping or learning new life skills.

You can find out more about working for us at Richmond Fellowship here.

 

A huge thank you to Stephen for this insight into Beeches Supported Housing and the great work going on in supporting people’s recovery journeys. To stay up to date on our Supported Housing week, follow Richmond Fellowship on Twitter and like our Facebook page, or check out #OurSupportedHousing. We have over 50 supported housing services across England, and we can’t wait to share more with you about our work!

Young People’s Week: Castle service’s Community Mural

Richmond Fellowship’s Castle service is based in the University City of Cambridge. The service provides Supported Housing for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. It regularly gets involved in community activities including the Mill Road Winter Fair and is very active in fundraising and organising activities for people we support.

But did you know a mural, situated in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Cambridge was created in partnership with the service?

It’s located on the city’s Mill Road bridge, the same road as the service’s office and has been a positive talking point of the area since its creation in 2006.

The artwork was designed by Sharon, a person staying at the neighbouring Youth Foyer as part of a competition. She spoke to the Cambridge News/Cambridgeshire Live website about it in 2019:

“Castle service were wanting to find a design that would adorn the Mill Road bridge and were encouraging people staying at the Youth Foyer to submit ideas.

The winning concept would be decided by a vote after all the designs were publicly exhibited, she was told.

So, inspired by the multicultural vibrancy of Mill Road, Sharon set to work with a huge, two-metre-long piece of paper and began to create her vision.

The idea, which was intended to represent both “the community of Mill Road and the wider world,” was comprised of a series of adjoining and overlapping flags, all overlaid with a line of irises.

Sharon said: “It took about three or four months for me to actually finish it.

“I was doing it every day, even on the weekends. It was my way of trying to stay afloat and not sink into depression.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go after.”

The designs were voted on, both by members of the public and residents of the Youth Foyer and the Castle Project, and Sharon’s proposal was chosen as one of the winning designs.

So, along with volunteers and residents from the Castle service and the Cambridge Youth Foyer, she set about painting the mural in the summer of 2006.

Sharon said: “We all got together and painted it. It really brought us together.

“After that, it really helped us to remain bonded. For many of us who didn’t have anywhere to go at Christmas, it was nice to have that little feeling of community and camaraderie.”

She added: “I’m extremely proud of the effort and support put in by the volunteers who helped me to create a moment so bright in my life when there was only darkness.

“This project spring-boarded me forward into where I am now.”

Follow our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with #YoungPeoplesWeek.

A day in the life of a Recovery Work – Apply today

Right now, we are looking for someone like you to join our team in Northampton where we support people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. Are you caring and compassionate? Looking for a role where you can make a real difference to people’s lives every day? Welcome to Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker. In this blog post, we take you through the day in the life of a recovery worker.

A typical day at Richmond Fellowship? To be honest, there isn’t one. One of the best things about this job is the variety. When you are arriving for your shift you are never sure what is going to happen. One day you will be helping people develop the skills to live independently, the next you could be interacting with healthcare professionals developing their care plan or maybe you will gain further qualifications through Richmond Fellowship’s training scheme.

To start the day the team meets for a handover from the previous shift. This is an opportunity to talk about plans for the day, which person you will focus your time on and sharing out tasks. The handover paperwork is completed to make sure we don’t forget anything. We’re commissioned to provide these services and our commissioners have expectations. We must keep records making sure the building is a safe place to live and work. These tasks are built into the shift leaving plenty of time for getting out and about with the people we support. Then it is off to see if anyone needs a hand to get up, washed, dressed, and ready for the day.

Once breakfast is finished it is time to plan the day. Each person has a set of life goals and it is the job of a recovery worker to encourage them to work towards those goals. For example, someone may have a goal to find a relationship. We break down that goal into smaller, manageable chunks. To meet someone special they may need to join groups and activities. With that in mind, you would spend time together searching out groups of interest and building up their confidence to attend. It is easy to see how each day can contribute to achieving that long term goal.

This job is all about supporting people to do things their way. It would be easy to give people a list of local activities but that takes away from helping someone learn how to search and find activities and events that suit them and their interests. That can all take time and it must be done at a pace to suit the person or the journey to becoming more independent is interrupted. Bringing ideas and suggestions for the people who live at the service creates a real buzz when we find something new to try.

You don’t need to have loads of experience of recovery work or of learning disabilities, autism or mental ill health to be good at this job. Richmond Fellowship provides a lot of training to develop the technical knowledge but this job is all about building relationships with the people who live in the house and your colleagues. If you have the basic values of kindness, patience and compassion everything else can be learned.
There may be appointments to arrange and attend. There are often visits from other professionals who are involved in people’s lives such as care coordinators, nurses or psychiatrists. You will talk with them and the person you support to develop their care plan or take the next step on their recovery journey. There are families and friends to spend time with. You will need good communication skills and a positive attitude to meet all these people. This job is all about providing as much or as little support as needed to make sure that people are living the life they choose.

The end of the day tends to be focused on preparing for bed and encouraging good sleep. Sleep is an essential part of being well for everyone and developing healthy sleep routine is a great way to get the best out of the next day. After you leave you can do some shopping with the exclusive discounts for Richmond Fellowship employees or maybe cycle home on the bike provided by our cycle to work scheme.

It can be a demanding and full-on job. It requires a lot of energy to stay motivated and energetic even when people are lethargic and disengaged. You won’t be on your own. Richmond Fellowship is a team and there is a lot of support for this role including training, monthly supervision with your manager, and team meetings. There is a staff council so you know you’re views will be heard at the top. It is essential to make good use of all of these tools to keep your batteries charged and the ideas flowing.

Post lockdown tour of our services

Since lockdown has started to ease, Jo Schofield, our Head of Operations in the North, has taken the opportunity to visit several services and see for herself how staff and people we support have been getting on.

In this blog, she tells us more about these visits and what they tell us about our staff’s commitment to Making Recovery Reality, and how proud she is of how well staff and people we support adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Moor View (Care Home)

Yesterday was a great day for me. As Head of Operations for the North, I have always been out and about visiting our services but due to Covid-19 that hasn’t been possible since March 2020. However, yesterday I ventured out to my first service visit since lockdown. I visited Moor View our registered care home in Halifax with 24-hour nursing. Upon arrival, I was temperature checked and offered disposable PPE.

Even though I was at Moor View for a meeting with colleagues, I took in the environment and was impressed with the cleanliness of the building. I introduced myself to two staff who I haven’t met before and they told me that they felt safe in the workplace, they felt well informed and supported. Whilst I have heard daily about the good work that is happening in services, there is nothing quite like seeing it for yourself!

Our frontline workers have continued to go into their workplace and adapted their home life to ensure they are as safe as they can be to continue to support the people that use our services.

Today I really felt such pride for everyone I met at Moor View. Not only our frontline staff for their awareness and alertness around Covid-19 but also the people living in our services. It was obvious to me that a lot of work had taken place to educate some of our residents about keeping themselves safe and respecting personal space and maintaining a safe distance with our staff and other residents and visitors to the service.

Trevayler (Crisis House)

Continuing on my visits to services to see how things are going on the frontline during the pandemic, last week took me to Trevayler. Trevayler has two elements; a transitional unit for people moving from a hospital setting and also a crisis house for people experiencing a mental health crisis that require some interventions to prevent a further relapse in their mental health.

As I walked down the drive, I could see what has now become a familiar sight when visiting Richmond Fellowship services; the colourful rainbows in the window that residents and guests had coloured to represent “hope” during the pandemic.

On arrival I was told that I was entering a Covid-19 free zone and asked if I had had any of the identified symptoms, which I confirmed that I had not. I spent time walking around the building and viewing an area of the building that will be transformed into a Crisis Haven over the coming weeks.

There were six staff in handover and I talked to them about how they felt coming into work on the frontline during the pandemic. They collectively told me that this was their job and that they did what they do. At this point, they felt very supported and said that  Richmond Fellowship had done everything possible to make sure they were safe.

As a senior leader in the organisation, I came away feeling proud of the staff working at Trevayler and how they had made adjustments to their lives to ensure the safety of those they support.

There are no words that can describe my gratitude of those working on the frontline to ensure that people we support continue to get the support they need, when they need it.

Tower House (24 Hour Supported Housing)

Last week, my service visits continued. I went to Tower House which is a 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Chester.

Upon arrival I couldn’t hide my smile as I saw the window covered in rainbows acknowledging “hope” during the pandemic. Residents engaged with craft sessions to decorate the window; joined in the clap for carers on Thursdays at 8pm and knew the importance of keeping themselves safe to reduce the risk of falling victim to the virus.

As I was shown around the beautiful building I met resident after resident who kept a safe distance and wore their face masks when they were in communal areas. One of the residents I spoke to explained that they had COPD and therefore was exempt from wearing a face mask but told me that they weren’t going to take any chances and was happy to wear one to keep everyone safe.

The three staff on duty spoke to me about how the residents have responded positively to changes within their living environment and how to start with it was extremely difficult but with lots of education about the Coronavirus and additional support offered, residents had responded really positively. They were really proud of how the residents had adapted during this really difficult time.

I came away from Tower House feeling confident that the staff and residents were working together to keep the service operating in a safe way and that the safety measures in place were not intrusive, but a true reflection on how the virus is being taken seriously within the setting.

What these service visits have shown

These service visits have reinforced what I already knew about our amazing staff and people we support. Throughout the entire pandemic, staff have shown resilience and commitment to our mission: making recovery reality. Even when the country was in a state of crisis, every staff member I encountered radiated hope and respect. They were all focused on enabling the people we support to achieve their goals even in the most adverse external circumstances.

As lockdown measures continue to change, we will keep working with staff and people we support to adapt how our services operate. We believe that everyone has a right to participate fully in society, and we will always ensure our services are running – whatever challenges the future might hold.

Big White Wall: New name, continued support

We are excited to announce that our partners at Big White Wall are re-naming.

The service, which is available for free to all of our staff, people we support and volunteers provides a safe online community to support your mental health, 24/7.

Big White Wall has undergone significant transformation in past few years, and they feel that it is the right time to move the brand forward. Through research and open conversation, they have chosen a name that truly represents the company and their values of inclusivity, positivity and belonging, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or religion.

What’s next?

At the beginning of August the new name will be announced, and you will start seeing communications from the service that look different, including an updated URL and logo. Up until the beginning of August the service will continue to operate as Big White Wall.

The service name is changing, but the commitment to providing safe and accessible mental health support remains consistent.

If you aren’t yet a member, and you feel like you need a place to talk visit www.bigwhitewall.com today to find out more.

Developing our Tameside Supported Housing service

1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health issues each year, and incredible work is being done across the country to tackle mental health stigma. Richmond Fellowship supports tens of thousands of people across the country every year, providing tailored support to tie in with each person’s needs, interests and aspirations – and we are proud that 97% of people who use our services feel that Richmond Fellowship has improved their quality of life, and 93% feel safe and secure in our services.  

Supported housing is one of the key models of support we offer. As well as offering a safe, welcoming place for people to live, the support provided helps people along their path of recovery to independent living. We are proud to have run supported housing services in Tameside for many years, and have never had any problems with the local community in that time. We are committed to continually improving the quality of the properties we provide. Our new property would replace ageing accommodation, and will be a modern, self-contained flat complex with support staff on-site 24/7 in order to provide the best recovery environment for the people we support. 

We will be talking to local people in order to hear any concerns and promote understanding of our work and services.

BBQ to thank community for mental health support

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National mental health charity Richmond Fellowship is inviting the local community in Surrey to its annual BBQ to thank them for their support at a local supported housing service.

Croft House, run by national mental health charity Richmond Fellowship, supports people living with mental health problems gain the skills and confidence to move onto independent living. Read more

Mayor to attend culture and diversity mental health event

Blue SparkyRichmond Fellowship will play host to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as part of an event to promote cultural diversity and tackle mental health stigma.

Councillor Robert Freeman will be in attendance at the event that will showcase a range of dancers, poetry, and cuisine from around the world.

The event will also aim to tackle mental health stigma in the community, an area of focus for Richmond Fellowship. Read more

Emergency grant scheme opens doors for mental health

Richmond Fellowship has praised an emergency grant scheme after a new report highlighted the benefits it brings to people with mental health problems experiencing extreme poverty or disadvantage.

The Open Doors report released this week showed that emergency grants provided by Family Action helped people, especially those with mental health problems, recover their independence while providing them with safety and stability in their home.

Read more

Building work starts on our new Southend supported living scheme

The diggers have moved on site to start building work on our new supported living scheme in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

The £4.8m development, supported by investment from the Homes and Communities Agency, will include 33 self-contained flats more specialised facilities, as well as one wheelchair standard apartment, communal areas for residents, office space and staff accommodation.

The scheme on Sutton Road is being developed by our partners Sanctuary Group to replace Chalkwell Lodge, our existing supported living scheme in Westcliff-on-Sea.

At a special event to formally mark the start of construction, local ward councillor Margaret Borton dug the first spade into the ground. She was joined by Chalkwell Lodge resident Paul Mills and representatives from Richmond Fellowship, Sanctuary Group, and builders UK Construction Ltd.

Richmond Fellowship locality manager Lesley Brady said: “We’re really excited about this new development as it means our residents will be able to live in self-contained flats rather than the more communal accommodation we’re currently using. This will make it much easier for us to support them to develop the independent living skills they need to be able to move on to their own homes.”

Councillor Lesley Salter, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s executive councillor for adult social care, health and housing, said: “This is a very exciting development to give vulnerable residents the vital opportunity to live independently in a safe and supportive environment.”

The Sutton Road scheme is due for completion in Spring 2015.