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Joel at Savery Gardens

What do you do when your grown-up child lives with multiple support needs, but you can’t secure a formal diagnosis or find the right support?

This was the struggle for Denise, and her son Joel, who’s now 23 years old.

Since Joel was a very young age, Denise noted that he wasn’t quite like other children. He was a late developer, didn’t talk much, and never ran around as toddlers his age do.

“My friend has got a son who was born a day earlier than Joel,” says Denise. “You shouldn’t compare - but it’s always there.”

After failing to get a diagnosis from a paediatrician, Joel was eventually diagnosed with dyspraxia, a condition which affects physical co-ordination.

Joel then attended a council-run school for children with special needs, where he got on well, and, when older, went on to study at two colleges.

Not thriving

Yet Joel was not thriving – and was often too frightened to leave Denise’s house, where he lived.

Then, over two years ago, after a chance encounter with a neighbour, Denise found out that Savery Gardens, a Lifeways supported living service, was being built just a few minutes’ walk from her home.

Based in Tipton, in Sandwell, Savery Gardens is a custom-built supported living service, made up of 18 one-bedroom self-contained apartments.

This style of supported living service provides each individual with both independence and support when they need it.

For Denise, her mission had begun: to find a way to secure funding for Joel to move to Savery Gardens, once the service had been completed.

Finding evidence

Yet demonstrating Joel’s needs in order to secure funding proved to be tricky. “I’d got no evidence [of Joel’s support needs],” said Denise.

Then, early last year, Denise secured a virtual appointment between Joel and a psychiatrist, who is qualified to formally diagnose individuals.

To Denise’s relief, Joel was now diagnosed with a learning disability, which entitled him to more support from her local authority.

However, further evidencing Joel’s support needs would prove to be another piece of the puzzle to secure support.

But after meeting with a social prescriber at Joel’s local GP, Denise acted on their suggestion: to ask the two colleges Joel had attended to write a report on him.

Turning point

Gathering this evidence would prove to be the turning point.

“It just all turned around,” says Denise. Encouraged by her local Lifeways Enquiries, Referrals and Assessment Manager, Lisa Reynolds, Denise now had the needed evidence to secure funding from the local authority for Joel’s placement.

This meant Joel could now move to his own self-contained apartment in Savery Gardens, which by this time had opened.

Joel moved to Savery Gardens last week, in late July.

So how has Joel been getting on?

‘The perfect place’

“He said he loves it there,” says Denise. “He is happy.”

“The best thing about [Savery Gardens] is that it’s a ten-minute walk from me,” Denise adds.

“And it was the perfect place, because he’s always lived in that area. He’s not scared to walk around and his doctors’ is on the same street.

“It’s just perfect in every way.”

Denise is relieved that her mission to secure support for Joel has succeeded.

“I am very happy,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong, when he’s gone I’ve got anxiety… but in my own mind, it’s the safest place for him.”

High praise

Denise has high praise for Lisa, our Lifeways colleague who assisted her.

“She has been absolutely straight to the point, truthful, and it’s gone swimmingly,” says Denise.

Joel’s path to supported living – in a location that’s familiar, and with the right balance of independent and support when he needs it – hadn’t been an easy one.

Lifeways’ Lisa is delighted that Joel’s settling in.

“It has been a long journey for Denise and Joel,” says Lisa. “I know at times it was causing a lot of worry: worries such as his placement would go to someone else and that Joel would miss out.”

“So thank you both so much for being patient and putting your trust in me to manage the assessment process for you,” Lisa adds.

“Joel, congratulations and I wish you all the happiness in your new home.”

Transitioning to adult services:

If you’re a parent whose child is transitioning to adults’ services, or has support needs, please see the guides on our website’s resources section.

You can also get in touch with us on our website.

About Lifeways:

Across the UK, Lifeways supports adults with diverse and complex needs. These needs include learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and mental health conditions. 

Find out more about how we change people’s lives at: www.lifeways.co.uk

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