NHS Transforming Care: Mellow Fields

February 27, 2023

“I guess I just wanted to express my thanks to Mark, we have worked together now for over a year. 

He has always remained calm and professional, helped me to follow a process I have never completed before, he worked in an inclusive way to always ensure the person was at the heart of everything he did, he delivered as planned an absolutely amazing home for a person who has had a terrible time, and I’m sure that because of his work, we will be enabled to change this person’s life.” Lisa, Operations Director, Swanton Care & Community Ltd.

Golden Lane Housing provide good quality housing for people with a learning disability or autism,  across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here we find out more about how, working with a number of partners, Golden Lane Housing were able to deliver a less restrictive, community based and more independent model of care, ultimately affording a better quality of life for a person with severe learning disability and autism.

I meet Mark our Development Officer outside the property, a semi detached bungalow on a quiet village street just on the outskirts of Sheffield. It was Friday morning and the final preparations were being made ready for the tenant who was moving in the next day. With the weather being slightly unsettled we made our way inside and into the kitchen to catch up on the project and say hello to the support manager from Swanton Care.

The kitchen is a completely modern space, the double oven caught my eye (always wanted one of those) and the big window which looks out onto the garden lets in lots of light.

I ask Mark to tell me more about James who from tomorrow will become a GLH tenant.

Mark tells me, has severe learning disability and autism and is non verbal and suffers from PTSD due to his early experience of living in Somalia during wartime.

Moving to the UK, James spent most of his life in Sheffield, his family live nearby but for the last 18 months he has been living in London. It’s a residential care home setting and sadly life is quite restricted. The months of separation have taken a toll on both James and his family who have struggled to visit him given the distance.

He’d been admitted to hospital in Sheffield following a breakdown in his behaviour but when it came to discharge him after a few weeks there was nowhere suitable locally for him to go other than where he is now. While the difficult decision was made to move James to London, alongside this, a team made up of Sheffield City Council – Commissioning Service Manager, James’s social worker, support provider, occupational therapist and Mark began to look into finding a more suitable home for James.

The property was purchased last year as part of the NHS Transforming Care scheme as the high specification of the project made other funding options less viable. The use of NHS England capital offered a number of advantages, principally the reduction of long-term revenue costs (i.e. rents covered by Housing Benefit payments and large scale support packages), and better long-term use of public funds.

Walking round the property, it’s clear that a lot has gone in to making this a long term home for James.

The decor has been designed to give as much of a homely feel as possible while offering a safe space for James and his support team who are there round the clock. From the choice of blinds, which afford privacy but also allow the right amount of daylight to suit James, to the garden which has a sunken trampoline and a swing and offers a private and secure outdoor space.

As we head out by the front door, I leave Mark to lock up the property for the last time and we wish the team all the best for tomorrow. They will be accompanying James on the journey from London. A few dry runs have taken place over the last few months to familiarise James with the distance but with so much upheaval, tomorrow will be a challenge for everyone.

Mark says it has been a real team effort and collaborating with those who know James best has made all the difference but the real test will be tomorrow and the coming months, years as James settles into his new life.

Monday morning I open my emails to read an update from Mark – the move has been a great success and James has visibly enjoyed his first weekend in his new home.