New home, new life in The Maples

5 May 2016

Today is European Independent Living Day, so we are celebrating one of our supported living centres.

When we refurbished The Maples in Belfast to become five bespoke wheelchair accessible flats, we were creating homes to transform lives for years to come.

Rosie's story

Rosie in her living room

In September 2014, we refurbished and redecorated the entire service, changing it from sheltered accommodation to a unique, combined sheltered service and supported living centre.

We used research from the Belfast Trust and Northern Ireland Housing Executive showing this type of accommodation is better for people with complex needs.

Rosie, a mum to five children, told us how the opportunity to live in this kind of service made a world of difference to her.

‘I never dreamed that I could have a chance to regain any personal care skills, or even dare think of looking after grandchildren.

‘I’m diabetic, needing four injections daily.

‘In January 2004 I was a full time resident at Phoenix Clinic and resource centre.

‘During my time there I got divorced. My children left school — some went to university, others into work.

‘I missed so much that happened. I’m only now becoming aware of their personal difficulties that were kept from me.

‘Building work was just finishing when I had my visit to The Maples and I moved in the middle of March 2015.

‘I had my doubts when I first came here. I had this huge flat with my own keys!’

Regaining independence

‘Having come from an environment where meals, laundry, personal care and medications were done for me, slowly I regained the importance of independence.

‘The equipment and technology were available and very soon I was able to embrace any fears or doubts on my abilities to put it to proper and good use.

‘I am a wheelchair user and I can transfer myself onto my bed, onto my toilet and into my shower.’

Personal space

‘I can do more for myself. I have the right to allow or refuse anyone in my flat. I have personal space and rights as a disabled person to be accepted for who I am.

‘And I’ve got my children and grandchildren back. While living in nursing care, I wouldn’t see my children for several weeks. Now every day someone drops in, texts or calls.

‘I’ve also let the very caring staff into my life. I’ve always been shown respect, never feel vulnerable or unsafe to be able to share jokes or talk about family, life and love.

‘When I have low moments, staff will know, and if I push the buzzers someone is at the door in couple of minutes.

‘On their own days off some lovely and considerate staff would come in and take a few people to the cinema, shopping or perhaps some much needed one to one time.’

What The Maples can do for you

‘How can I summarise what Leonard Cheshire and the Maples can offer to others who are in similar position?

‘Take courage – this organisation will work with social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, care managers, community nurses, to try and discover a path forward to give you a future where you won’t fall through the net.

‘It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the transition from 11 years of 24 hour nursing care in a nursing clinic.’

The work to the Maples was possible thanks to funding and work by Choice Housing.

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