Blog by Carly Stannard, FitzRoy Manager
Before we opened Lethrede, a FitzRoy Supported Living home in Suffolk, Neil Timms, who has autism, was placed over 150 miles away from his family. Undaunted, his mum, sometimes accompanied by his brother, would travel the long journey to see him. She took his favourite chocolates and other things he loved. Neil would take her gifts, spend a short time with them and then simply say goodbye and return to his bedroom. Rarely would her visit last more than thirty minutes. This heart-breaking situation went on for several years.
Neil needed specialist support to fulfil meaningful relationships, communicate his needs and wishes positively, and to access his community. Living with autism, Neil can struggle with relationships, understanding emotions, and social pressures.
Things changed for all the family when Neil moved to a FitzRoy Supported Living home, Lethrede, which is only 20 minutes away from his mum. Paying special attention to his need for routines FitzRoy staff made sure his bedroom had exactly the same colours and the furniture was in the same place. With a lot of long-term planning and dedicated expert support the staff created a caring environment in which Neil could feel safe.
The transformation in Neil has been huge. After a year of gaining confidence he took part in a sponsored bounce and invited his mum and brother to watch. They stayed for several hours enjoying the BBQÂ to celebrate Neil’s new house being open for a year. During the visit Neil pulled his Mum close and kissed her on the head. Grinning, she said âI’ve got my boy back.â We all had tears in our eyes.
The whole family are over the moon and last Mother’s day Neil bought chocolates to give his Mum when she visited; gone were the days of her being left on the doorstep. In another lovely twist, Neil’s brother has joined FitzRoy as a Support Worker, enjoying the fulfilling daily life of caring for adults with learning disabilities.â
Neil’s mum has her say âWe were delighted with how Neil settled in to his new home â the staff team working with Neil did a tremendous job in planning the move so that everything could go as smoothly as possible.
We are delighted that Neil has his own car so that he can go out in to the community as he desires. There was only a shared mini bus in his last place, and Neil has always struggled to socialise with the other people he has been living with â so sharing the vehicle would cause Neil anxiety. Now, with the help of his support staff, he can go out on longer journeys which are much more fun for him.
The move has allowed Neil to live a fuller life and his health, including his weight, has improved as a result.
It is a nice feeling having Neil live so close as we can call in to see him much more frequently than we could before. It is reassuring that we could bump in to Neil if he were out in the town. He is always happy to see us and we can see from his general demeanour how settled and relaxed he is.
We can’t thank FitzRoy enough for the way that they have supported Neil over the past three years.