‘She said I’ve been to a super place, it’s really lovely. Everyone was sat around together relaxing and watching the telly, it was just like being at home.’
In 1997 Eileen was searching for a new home for her daughter Alexandra who had recently returned home after three years attending Weelsby Hall in Grimsby when a friend from church introduced her to Stanley Grange. Following a visit and interview Alexandra was offered a chance to come to Stanley Grange for activities during the day. Whilst the situation wasn’t ideal Eileen and Jim, Alexandra’s parents accepted the opportunity because it would allow Alexandra to be part of a community and live a full life with her days filled with activities.
For years Dad, Jim drove Alexandra to and from Stanley Grange every day where she enjoyed participating in the activities programme, working on the estate and celebrating birthdays at the onsite discos alongside residents, staff and others in the day program. Unbeknown to Alex during this time her parents and two sisters spent years battling local agencies so she could take up the opportunity to live on site. Finally, in 2010, Alexandra was able to move into supported living and settle into her own home at Stanley Grange.
‘I knew she was in the right place, but I cried all the way home when I left her, and I missed her, I missed her so much.’
Like many parents of children with learning disabilities discover, finding the right opportunities for their son/daughter can be a challenge especially as children transition into adulthood.
‘It’s a hill to climb to achieve anything. In our experience it was up to us to be proactive, to complete the paperwork, to find out what was available and then to advocate for Alexandra to ensure she got what was best for her.’
Fast forward 14 years and today Alexandra is well settled into her life at Stanley Grange. ‘Stanley Grange gives Alexandra independence and an opportunity to be around people her own age, I’m her best friend and her mum, we have a tight bond and she absolutely loves coming home, but at Stanley Grange she is happy and part of a bigger community.’
At Stanley Grange Alexandra lives in supported living, in a three-bedroom home alongside her housemate. Both Alexandra and her roommate have their own bedrooms that are decorated and furnished to their own tastes. The third room doubles up as a staff office/bedroom. During the day from Alexandra has 1:1 support and overnight it changes to 2:1. Eileen shared ‘Alexandra thrives when she has someone with her, directing her and encouraging her. She enjoys being with people but is also happy to relax and be in her own company, she enjoys planning the weekly menu with staff and loves going to the supermarket to do the weekly shop.’
Transitioning from the daily programmes at Stanley Grange into supported living was smooth for Alexandra who had become familiar with the staff, the estate and the house. By the time Alexandra moved the building which facilitated the activities programme had become accommodation, so for Alex her new home was already a place full of happy memories.
For Alexandra life at, and away, from Stanley Grange is a happy one. Alex loves going home and seeing her family, taking trips to the supermarket with Dad, and going for lunch in the café with mum after a morning of shopping in their local town.
Eileen added, ‘When Alexandra moved into Stanley Grange, I mentioned that she enjoys going to church and since then her carers found a church close by and take her each week. I think this is brilliant and echoes their values of going the extra mile. I don’t think any of her team would regularly attend church otherwise, but they prioritise this because it is important to Alexandra and us. They will often mention they are going to a Garden Party or Film Night at Alex’s church and I think it is lovely that they have got her involved in activities and she has been able to meet new people and be part of another community.’
When asking Eileen to share how Stanley Grange has impacted Alexandra’s life she said ‘Stanley Grange gives Alexandra security, if she was living in a house in the community she would be confined, she wouldn’t have the freedom to explore. She would likely be sat in a house, with little access to regular activities. At Stanley Grange Alexandra knows what she is doing and where she is going, she has a busy schedule with the activities programme and is also responsible for tidying her room and making her bed. Whilst she has support from the staff, completing everyday tasks like this allows her to gain more skills and independence.’
Stanley Grange provides Alexandra, and many others a safe place to call home, in an environment that allows them to live a happy and fulfilling life. On behalf of The Stanley Grange Community Association, we would like to thank Eileen and family for everything they do to support the community at Stanley Grange and for sharing Alexandra’s story with us.
*We are committed to respecting the privacy of residents at Stanley Grange, and only sharing details relevant to individuals who have agreed to share their stories.