What happens on a residential short break?
2 Nov 2020
2 Nov 2020
Break are so lucky to be able to support a range of children and young people who have very different needs. Nelson Lodge (NL) is our residential short break home for children with disabilities, making a difference to not only the children that come and stay but also to their families. We catch up with Deputy Manager Peter Willson who gives some insight on how the service works and the difference it makes.
NL is for children and young people aged 5 to eighteen with complex needs. It gives them time in a setting fit for their needs with trained staff who give them opportunities that they would not be able to experience elsewhere, and in turn give the families some respite for what can often be intense and stressful situations. The aim of the service is to enable families to recharge their batteries and spend time with other siblings in the knowledge their child is being looked after in a wonderful setting.
The lodge has 6 bedrooms, a playroom, a wonderful sensory room with a heated water bed, bubble tubes, florescent lights, star projectors, smell projector and black lights. We have a dining room where we have our meals and also where we can be creative. When not occupied one of our bedrooms can be easily adapted to become a “chill out room” with a projector, young people can carry out activities or watch a film on their own and to take a moment to relax without being disturbed.
Outside we have a really lovely garden with areas for seating and messy play and paddling pools galore. We also have swings, a couple of playhouses and, most importantly, a large area to run about and use some energy!
Understandably, the young people and their families can feel apprehensive ahead of their first stay. To help with this we take a bit by bit approach. First, the parents and carers come without their child to have a look around, meet staff and ask any questions they may have. Then we do a number of what we like to call “tea visits” where the child along with their family can come by and sometimes even stay for a meal. Every child is assigned a key worker and staff adapt the process to fit the child’s needs - we try and enter their world before they enter ours and understand the importance of treating the children as individuals.
Nothing is out of reach! We often take trips during the holidays and weekends. We have done activities such as “tubing” at the ski slopes in Norwich, taken them to the trampoline park, High Lodge and even indoor skydiving. If our children show an interest in something we try our best to make that experience happen for them. We love thinking outside of the box and even taken wheelchair users roller-skating and also rock-climbing!
There is no typical day - every child and their needs are different, some children require a more regimented routine and with others we can let them lead us! Staff always begin a shift by following a process which ensures they are up to date with anything they should know regarding the child they are working with.
We go beyond what is usually expected and we’ve made successes that others haven’t been able to achieve. Children have made progress with communication, behaviour and the positive impact is not only on the child but the whole family – the benefits are wide reaching. Staff are also always on the other end of the phone if our families ever need support or guidance even if the child is not currently staying with us.
All staff are required to complete a level 3 diploma within two years of working at NL. A lot of the children who stay with us are non-verbal so staff complete training to suit the needs of the children that stay. This varies from communication training (e.g. Signalong, Makaton, BSL, PECS) to using iPads and our staff have completed courses on sensory eating, diabetes, epilepsy and very importantly medication training. We are adaptable and if we identify a need we follow that up with training.
More than ever the pandemic has highlighted what a key service this is to families, especially when other services they rely upon were not running. We dropped the occupancy level to allow more room and space in the premises and we check in regularly with all families. The co-operation from families has been so amazing. Since August we have increased to full capacity to be able to support more families.
Mud kitchen and welcoming new staff members with fresh ideas! With new young people coming to stay with us the service constantly changes and adapts for them. Depending on funding, we have lots of exciting plans!