23rd September 2019

Planning your next steps?

Planning your next steps? Cover Photo

Toni Hodges, Placement Administrator at QEF’s Independent Living Service, talks about the questions parents frequently ask when considering next steps for their son or daughter as they turn 18+ and leave full-time education.

At QEF we offer specialist residential care for young adults with complex disabilities. Our aim is to provide a person-centred approach that reflects each person’s needs, whilst supporting the development of life skills and enabling people to live as independently as possible.

Lots of parents and potential residents have the same types of queries and below are some of the questions we are asked most frequently.

When do we need to start planning our next steps?

We suggest people start thinking about what the next steps could be at least a year before their current placement ends, so the summer term of your penultimate year – if not before.

What areas do you specialise in?

Different places may have different areas of expertise. Do you need medical support maybe? What therapy support would your son or daughter require? Does this need to be available in-house? At QEF for example we have a lot of experience supporting people with complex needs arising from Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We have in-house physiotherapy and expertise in managing dysphagia and PEG feeding, as well as supporting people with communication aids.

Are you a home for life?

Are there any restrictions on the length of time a person can stay with that provider, or can they live there as long as their funding allows? For example, we only have residents who are 18+, although there is no upper age restriction.

How do residents fill their day? What leisure activities are available?

Look at notice boards and ask other residents what type of activities are available for them to get involved in. Are there a good variety of activities, games, sports and trips? Are residents encouraged to get involved with delivering some of these activities if they have relevant skills? We have a team of life coaches/activity coordinators to ensure a varied programme of activities including games, art and craft, drama productions and live music events. Residents also have weekly programmes which can be attached to their wheelchairs so they know what their activities are each day.

Is there medical support/therapy available on site?

This will depend on your son or daughter’s individual needs as to what level of medical support is required. At QEF our residents are generally registered with a local doctor and a district nurse visits regularly; we also have physiotherapy and speech and language expertise on site. However, we do not have nursing support on site, so this is an important factor to explore.

Is there transport for medical appointments?

Getting to medical appointments is important. What facilities are in place to ensure your son or daughter can attend these? At QEF we have drivers and wheelchair accessible vehicles available that can help residents attend planned appointments, as long as they are within a reasonable distance.

What level of training do the staff have?

A commitment to supporting staff and their training is important. All Support Workers at QEF undertake The Care Certificate which is an agreed set of standards that sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected in the social care sector. They also have the opportunity to complete Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care or undertake apprenticeships. As well as mandatory training, QEF offers more bespoke training such as Dysphagia management.

Can people personalise their rooms?

This is an important aspect to ensure residents feel very much at home. At QEF people can decorate their rooms as much or as little as they want. They can even bring their own furniture if they want to, as long as it is fire approved.

Are dietary requirements/religious beliefs supported?

Food is important to all of us and supporting dietary requirements can be essential. Find out what current residents think of the food available. Do they like it? Is there a good variety? Also are there people of different faiths already living there and are their dietary needs supported?

Is there any support for managing money?

Managing benefit payments and personal spending money is something that residents, with support from their families or carers, can decide how they would like to approach. It’s a good idea to find out if there is anyone available to assist residents on a day-to-day basis as support may be needed to manage bank accounts and/or cash. You need to discuss how you are going to keep personal funds safe but accessible.

Access to any wider facilities?

Are there any additional services or facilities that the centre has access to beyond that specific location? At QEF our residents can explore additional opportunities such as volunteering in our charity shops, potentially learning to drive at our mobility centre, and our partner charity MERU also regularly supports residents with individual needs for bespoke equipment.

What does the referral process involve?

From June/July in your penultimate term, research next step options that suit you and arrange informal visits so you can ask questions.

Once you decide which location you prefer, contact the providers and your social worker and let them know you would like to arrange an assessment. At QEF we then contact your current placement and request your up-to-date reports. These are then reviewed by our Multi-Disciplinary Team to assess whether we could support each potential resident’s needs.

The next step is to arrange an assessment, which for us takes place over 3 days and 2 nights. You are asked to bring all equipment you need for your usual care routine and you will have 1:1 support throughout the visit. Assessments usually takes place in Jan/Feb of your last placement year.

Assessment feedback is then collated and reviewed. If everyone is happy then reports along with QEF’s suggested costings are sent to social services for funding approval. If this is approved, then a place can be offered and we agree a start date that suits you, whether that’s straight from college or a different date that works for you.

About QEF

Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People is a UK charity based in Surrey with national reach, supporting over 5,000 disabled people a year. Our specialist services all focus on helping people to maximise their independence. QEF Independent Living Services is a specialist residential care service supporting young adults with complex disabilities. In Spring 2020 we are moving to a bespoke new centre with modern, comfortable facilities and assistive technology in the bedrooms.