Stepping down – supporting people back into their community
Jill Corbyn, NDTI's Development Lead for Learning Disabilities, was asked to contribute an expert opinion on the Heathcote POD initiative which provides a step-down service from their care homes.
"What strikes me about this project is, who would really choose to live in a temporary structure in the garden of a residential service? And why? Faced with the opportunity of space and resources, you have to ask who the Pod idea is really serving?
Heathcotes’ Pod initiative seems to talk about separation and segregation as acceptable norms. Worryingly, Heathcotes suggests the Pods are only for those who are thinking about moving back into the community. Who is commissioning Heathcotes services to keep people out of communities? What is society missing out on because of their exclusion? Everyone has potential for connection, contribution and control – relationships, work and real lives.
The focus of the Pod claims to be on building towards independent living skills and a transition to where people actually want to be. Why not jump the extra step (after all, change is hard) and go straight to what people want? Why not support people to consider what’s important to them, where they would like to be, what skills, attributes and personalities they would like to see in their staff team and build a home and support around what someone wants, rather than what is available?
There remains real concern about the emergence of on-site supported living services. They risk taking the same approaches of residential institutions and hospitals, but with reduced regulation and regulatory oversight. There is a real danger that people will be ‘placed’ temporarily to build skills or independence but will never move on.
As the saying goes, ‘a house is not a home’. A shed in the garden is not independent living."
Jill Corbyn, Development Lead – Learning Disabilities, NDTi