In the 1960s, social care looked very different than it does in our services today. Back then, the only care available for those with learning disabilities was often in an institution, with no flexibility or account taken of people’s individual wants and needs. Faced with this prospect for their respective children, Elizabeth FitzRoy and John Williams were utterly determined to find a way to do things differently.
Thanks to their vision and determination, in 1962 Donec Mews was set up: a place to deliver person-centred care in a small, family-style home. A place that changed the face of social care for generations to come. Elizabeth and John not only ensured that their children were spared a lifetime of institutional care, but enabled thousands of other people with learning disabilities to flourish too, living lives of independence and joy – the lives they choose.
Today, FitzRoy is proud to be carrying on our founders’ legacy and living their values every day, enabling the people we support to live richer, more independent lives and ensuring positive change for them and their families. We now run 100 services across England, ranging from support at home right though to specialist nursing care.
Kim Knights, East Midlands Area Manager, says, “The FitzRoy values are that we are brave, we are creative, and we see the person – just like our founders did all those years ago. The people we support really are at the heart of everything we do, across all our services. I think anyone working in social care would agree that it’s the people we support who really make the job. It’s so rewarding seeing them flourish and achieve their goals – and knowing that you’ve been part of their journey to make that happen.”
I think social care can be so underestimated as a role – it’s a job that requires emotional intelligence, perception and at times resilience. You need to know the importance of the little things, the difference between supporting someone to eat their lunch independently or feeding them their lunch because it’s more time efficient for you. Something as simple as supporting someone to make a decision about the clothes they wear that day might not sound like much, but it makes a world of difference to that person when you empower them to make choices about their own life in a way they can understand, rather than making assumptions about what they want based on past experiences or simply thinking you know best.
One of the people supported by our services in Nottingham is Cherrill-Anne (pictured top), who moved in at the end of last year. She had been living at her previous home for ten years and was understandably a little apprehensive about moving. Cherrill-Anne says, “I was nervous at first, but everyone here made me feel welcome, respected, and understood. Living here has allowed me to be independent; it’s let me do things by myself and not be afraid. I have really bad arthritis and this place has made a lot of difference to my mobility.
“I get so much help from the staff, which I never had before moving here – you almost click your fingers and they are on hand. They either do things for me or they show me how it’s done. They also help me keep my flat tidy – I’m not the neatest person but the staff here understand that and they’re always on hand to help me clean up.”
One of Cherill-Anne’s aims is to manage her own medication, so the staff are currently guiding her through that process. Cherill-Anne comments, “The team are so helpful. Life has got tons and tons, in fact 20 times better for me since I’ve been here.”
Kim says, “Since Cherill-Anne moved in, the team have made sure to get to know her for who she is and support her to achieve her goals. By recognising her capacity to manage her own medication and actively supporting her to do so successfully, we’re empowering her to take more control in her own life and push her boundaries.
“In the last year Fitzroy Nottingham has doubled in size, opening new services, with others currently in the building development stage, and further services in the pipeline across the East Midlands. We’re looking for new team members who have a passion for supporting people to develop skills to support their activities of daily living and achieve their goals – like Cherill-Anne. Are you ready to join our outstanding team of support workers who share our FitzRoy vision and values?”
You can find our current vacancies here.