Emma’s update – December 2020

Read here for Emma’s December update

Dear teams!

What a year this has been.  As 2020 draws to an end, I would like to say well done, once again, for the amazing support you have provided, for your hard work and dedication. Everyone has pulled together and I have seen evidence all around of the Achieve together values being lived in practice.  Along with people we support, you have been resilient, brave and creative… finding ways to continue to have fun whenever it has been possible (as you will see throughout this blog).   It has been a turbulent period with changes for everyone in the UK.  You have always put people we support at the centre of what we do, I frequently get messages from family members recognising this and thanking you for what you do and the way in which you do it…. I know you receive these compliments too.

I know this focus will be the same in 2021 whatever challenges are put in our path.  After 2020, I would like to think that nothing could surprise us, but I know in truth that we will all need to continue to be very alert to the challenges and to thinking ahead to how we can continue to support people to be safe and happy as things change.  I do hope you have a chance for some peace and tranquillity in the Christmas period.  Please do stay safe and well.   In the meantime though, this monthly blog has a focus on the great activity that has been going on all around Achieve together!

The people we support have been busy as usual, and have been enjoying preparing for the Christmas festivities.

Manor Barn had a surprise visit yesterday from some superheroes! Ben and his housemates were absolutely thrilled to see some of their favourite characters. Not only did they have their photos taken, but everyone received a Christmas gift too. Manor Barn also recently put up their Christmas trees, and have been playing Christmas music to really get into the festive mood:

With usual Christmas festivities being more restricted at the moment, Durlston Lodge decided to be inventive, and made use of a Polytunnel which they transformed into the Wiltshire Grotto. The people we support in the surrounding area had appointments where they could meet the elves, received a cupcake and hot chocolate, and were then given a gift by Santa and Mrs Claus.  What a great team effort Durlston Lodge!

The people we support at Ty Nant have been busy decorating their communal Christmas tree, and even made some beautiful Christmas wreaths to decorate their home with. They also looked the part for Christmas Jumper Day!

Sian, a team member at Estann House, decided to dress up as a snow woman to entertain the people we support.
Jen, who lives at Estann House, felt it was the morale boost they all needed, to help cheer them up at a time when there isn’t much normality. Laughter and fun were had by all!

As well as Christmas preparations, Diwali, the festival of lights, took place recently. Due to the pandemic restrictions however, it couldn’t be celebrated in the usual way this year. Despite this, Vinaya from Forest View, who has a hearing impairment, was given the digital support she needed to stay in touch with her family at this challenging and special time. Here she is watching her sister, who was doing a dance and celebrating the religious festival on a YouTube live stream:

The Wheel of Engagement competition
We held the second Wheel of Engagement competition this year – a great opportunity for our front-line teams to share all the wonderful things they have been doing to support people, according to the categories of the Wheel of Engagement. These categories are: Friendships, Family, Sexuality¬, Paid Employment, Voluntary Work, Inclusive Communication, Active Community Involvement, Intensive Interaction, Leisure and Exercise, Positive Behaviour Support, Active Support, Sensory Stimulation and Practice Leadership.

Engaging with all these categories together, ensures that the people we support have a good quality, meaningful and fulfilled life.

This competition celebrates the wonderful work our front-line teams and what they have been doing through 2020.

The judging panel consisted of people we support from Campaign 4 Change, the Executive Team, some guests from the HR team, and people we support from different operational areas.   The competition has been intense and I have loved the judging process, working on the committee alongside people we support and other colleagues to manage the tough task of choosing winners.  This time around it was harder than ever and I commend all of you who made submissions, please keep it up!  The full list of those that made a submission is at the end of this blog… well done to you all, the submissions were really inspiring.  But in the end, the winners were;

The winners for each Area were:

Area 1: Meesons Lodge
Area 2: Vallance Gardens
Area 3: Rivendell
Area 4: Hersham Gardens
Area 5: Ruby House
Area 6: Addington Road

Runners up:

Area 1:  Sail Close
Area 2:  290 Dyke road
Area 3:  St Helens House, Ty Coedwig and Ty Nyddfa
Area 4:  Reddown Road
Area 5:  Highdowns
Area 6:  Dybdale Crescent

Overall champion:

Joint – Vallance Gardens / Rivendell

Among other amazing achievements, the Rivendell team and the people they support created a ‘Rivendell Charter’ where they outlined each person’s goals, the team’s key responsibilities and promises to each other, team goals, and ground rules for “achieving together”.  Vallance Gardens excelled at promoting romantic relationships, paid employment and the use of various assistive and communication technology for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Congratulations, and thank you to everyone for your amazing efforts in submitting your entries – I hope to see even more in 2021!

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year

All the best,