Celebrations for staff and residents as care provider hits the gold standard

CEO Sandie Foxall-Smith (standing right) with staff at one of the celebratory tea parties at Oakland

CEO Sandie Foxall-Smith (standing right) with staff at one of the celebratory tea parties at Oaklands in Walsoken - Credit: Archant

A supported living service in Walsoken which supports people with learning disabilities and mental health needs joined in a nationwide celebration of 105 tea parties around the UK.

Oaklands is run by care provider Regard, the UK’s fourth biggest care provider, which has just been awarded the prestigious Gold Investors In People standard. Staff and service users celebrated at a series of tea parties held on the same day at services all over the country.

Service Manager Gemma Watson said: “The people who live at Oaklands are encouraged to take part in a wide range of activities such as attending adult education courses at local colleges in King’s Lynn and Wisbech including Access into the Workforce, cookery and evening classes in a range of subjects such as sports and pottery.”

They are also involved with The Princes Trust and participate in many community activities such as playing snooker at a local club, accessing a gym in Wisbech, cinema visits, playing cricket, bike rides, fishing and swimming.

Gemma, who has nearly 13 years’ experience in the sector, said: “It is very rare, but at the moment we have a single room available. There is an enormous need for this kind of provision in this area.”

The room might suit adults with learning disabilities or young adults in transition who need to make a home of their own away from their parents. Oaklands provides 24-hour support in a relaxed and homely setting.

Regard Chief Executive Officer Sandie Foxall-Smith said: “Our service users are at the heart of everything we do and staff wanted to celebrate alongside them. It took a huge logistical effort across the country but everyone had tea and cakes and decorated their homes to celebrate the success at the same time.

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“The Gold accreditation recognises the hard work and dedication of our staff and it is a huge achievement to have gone from the bronze award to the gold award in just three years.

“Our service is provided to some of the most vulnerable people in society. But the real test comes when an independent external assessor, such as we had with Investors In People, comes into an organisation and looks carefully at how you do things.

“Just four of the 17,000 care organisations in the country have achieved the standard so we felt it was worth celebrating.”

Service users at Oaklands are supported to develop basic life skills such as shopping, cooking meals, household cleaning, laundry and gardening, and encouraged to make the most of community resources such as libraries, cafes, sports clubs, pubs and cinemas.

The service occupies a large period property that has been refurbished to accommodate 10 people, with some bedrooms in the main house and others in a self-contained annexe.

It has large gardens which can be used for games, and where tenants are encouraged to be more self-sufficient by getting involved in horticulture.

There is an excellent bus service two minutes’ walk away from the property giving easy access to Wisbech, King’s Lynn and Peterborough.

Service user Stephen, who has been living at Oaklands since 2014, said: “Since moving here I have completed a computer course at the local college, I have started swimming, going bowling and to the local discos. I am now able to go to the local shop without support.

“I like living at Oaklands because it is friendly and fun and I get on with everyone in the house.”

Families with an adult with learning difficulties can learn more about the opportunity by calling the Regard referral line: 0800 840 0313.

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