IT WAS Patricia Pickton’s 34th birthday on Thursday and she shared it – as most of us do – with someone who is very important in her life.
Except in Trisha’s case, it wasn’t a family member, but a “daytime provider” called Lisa Davies who has supported Trisha for the past seven or eight years so that she can enjoy the kind of social activities most of us take for granted.
Trisha has learning difficulties and lives in a Leonard Cheshire home in Holbeach with three other people plus staff.
She is bright and bubbly, but going out independently on the kind of spur-of-the-moment outing most of us undertake would be an impossibility for Trisha.
Lisa explains: “As long as it is a planned outing she can do it, but it has to be planned because she is vulnerable. She just needs that one-to-one support and it is trusting somebody.”
On her birthday, Lisa took Trisha for her regular riding lesson at Four Winds Equitation Centre at West Pinchbeck with coach Alice Horton, who has seen Trisha’s confidence improve in the years she has been teaching her.
“She has learned to do a rising trot and she is getting quite confident with her school movements,” says Alice, who adds that Trisha has a “lovely rapport” with the horses.
The special day was to include another treat, a Chinese meal with Lisa, and there were plans for Trisha and her housemates to enjoy another celebration.
However, Lisa is not just there for Trisha’s special days, but supports her a couple of times each week so she is able to take part in activities in the community.
Lisa is a “daytime provider” supplied by ASA – Adults Supporting Adults – which area manager Jackie Quant explains is a not-for-profit charity.
Within Jackie’s area of Spalding, Bourne and Stamford there are 60 clients receiving the many services provided by ASA, all designed to support adults over 18 and to give them “opportunities to live an independent and fulfilling life within their local community,” according to Jackie. She says: “Everybody has something to offer and it’s about supporting these people to be able to offer what they have.”
ASA is primarily a “shared lives provider”, where people who require support are able to live in a family environment with “providers” where they are supported to learn all the skills for independent living.
Clients may have some impairment, such as a learning or physical disability, or they might be an elderly person. Some have access to paid or voluntary work. Jackie explains that some don’t have family while others may be unable to live with their own families or want some independence from them.
Jackie explains: “Some of the people in long-term placements were originally in the old institutions and when they closed the institutions they were looking for somewhere these people would go and that’s how this scheme came about. Many of them hadn’t actually had a family life, so that’s where it started.
“Some have been in foster care and some carers became providers with us, as long as they got through the assessment, or clients move from foster care into our placements.
“I think emotionally, physically, spiritually, it is the whole thing that a family offers. It’s about being part of a unit and knowing that support is there and doing things that families do. It’s about them being integrated into that family while supporting them to become as independent as possible.”
Apart from the shared living, ASA provides all kinds of services to help clients as well as ‘providers’, with things such as respite care, sitting services and a special service for dementia sufferers, all carried out in a homely setting.
Shop2Gether is the only one of ASA’s services that is not paid for but is performed by volunteers who receive petrol money for taking a client shopping or perhaps for a coffee to prevent social isolation. Other services, including the Daytime Provision that allows people like Trisha to take part in social activities or gives them help with things like paying the bills, are paid for out of clients’ personal budgets.
l ASA “providers” are self-employed: they have to be CRB checked and are given training and supervision on a monthly basis. To volunteer or find out more phone 01529 416270.