Ep1: Yes to child-to-adult support transitions
In this very first episode of Yes to You, the Lifeways podcast, our host Paul is joined by Will Oborne, Community Engagement and Business Development Manager for Lifeways’ East region, to discuss navigating the transition from children’s to adult services. Child-to-adult transitions usually means 17 or 18-year-olds who move from a parent’s home, school or facility into a supported living residential service.
Transcript - Ep1: Yes to child-to-adult support transitions
Main speaker: Will Oborne, Community Engagement and Business Development Manager for Lifeways’ East region
Host: Paul Crompton, Marketing and Communications Manager, Lifeways
PC Paul Crompton
WO Will Oborne
PC Hello, and welcome to Yes to You the Lifeways podcast. Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of support professionals who provide support for adults in the community. In this episode, which is the very first we’ve made, you’ll be learning about how to handle adult to child transitions. Adult to child transitions usually means 17- to 18-year-olds who move into a parent’s home, school or facility into a supported living or residential service.
I’m Paul Crompton, marketing and communications manager at Lifeways and the podcast host here. And I’m speaking to Will Oborne who’s Lifeways community engagement and development manager. Will’s background is in adult social care where he’s worked for the last five years, helping families find the right support for their loved ones living with disabilities.
Will, welcome to the very first episode of the Yes to You podcast.
WO Thank you very much, Paul. And an absolute pleasure to be here and an honour to be your first guest as well. I’m a very, very keen listener of podcasts but this is a new experience for me being in the other end of the mic. So, I’m very excited to get going.
PC So, Will, to start with the very first question. What do we mean when we say transitioning to adult services? What’s the transition here?
WO Well, I think we got to start back here and look at what we actually mean by the word transition. Now for me, the word transition it’s about moving from one task to another task. And what we know here at Lifeways, we’re experienced at supporting adults with autism and learning disabilities. And transitioning from one task to another, it’s important we have the right structure and routine in place. And it can be very challenging.
So, in this particular scenario, we’re talking about a very, very big transition. We’re moving from having grown up with your family where your parents have looked after you in that family dynamic, in a lot of cases, they’d been supporting you and have done a lot for you. Or perhaps you have been at a residential school and you’re moving out to gain that level of independence to live on your own with support with peers around you with similar needs, of a similar age group. And it’s a huge up upheaval.
And we all know that moving house is a very stressful time and there’s a lot of things to consider. So, getting that transition right and spot on is really important.
It’s about… You’re moving out, especially for the first time at the age of 17 and 18. I remember when I was 17, 18. I went to university, and I moved to a flat living on my own. And I was used to my mum doing everything for me, cooking, cleaning, and it was a steep learning curve. It probably one of the most valuable things I learnt at university, was cooking and cleaning.
But that’s what it is. It’s about gaining skills, that next level of independence and managing it in the right way which is right not just for the person we’re supporting but also for their parents and their family as well.
PC And when does that transition really begin? I said in my intro to this podcast, the transition usually happens between the ages of 17 and 18. But some parents obviously like to plan in advance. Some people like to plan things long-term in advance. So, when should one really start thinking about that move?
WO You can't be too early to start thinking about a move. There are many factors that you’ll need to consider and there’s a lot of stuff you’ll need to organise as well. And it’s all dependent on individual need. And if with a plan of transition in a person-centred way, it has to be adaptable to that individual. So, if your son or daughter or loved one wants to move out at the age of 18 perhaps after finishing at their residential school or college, you really want to start as early as you can. 15, 16 years old.
You need time. You need to explore what’s out there. You need to find the different avenues of funding that are available. There’s all… It’s a very multifaceted thing, and there’s lots of different barriers that you need to overcome. And what’s important is you give yourself sufficient time to find the best option for your loved one.
PC Right. And as a parent myself, I always have that conflict, if you like, where I’m thinking what's best for my child. But of course, my child has their own opinions and their own views of what's best for them. How do you reconcile that conflict between what the two parties, if you like, might want?
WO The transition, it’s important to remember, it’s as much about the family the parent as it is about the child. I mean, as parent you must know you can't imagine that somebody else would be able to look after your child as well what you could. So, letting go, it’s really difficult for parents, and understandably so. And it’s really important to listen to what your child wants.
It might be your child is not ready at 18, but it’s only natural that there will be a time when it’s the right moment to flee the nest. We do get some cases come to us where parents are parents are much, much older. They’ve supported their children and they’re getting very old and they’re not able to support in the same way that they were. And then something happens and it’s a crisis.
And you’d want to avoid that. You want to plan ahead. Plan your future, think about it, make a plan. Sit down, get a piece of paper, a pen, write down what you think the plan is for your own future.
PC I’m putting myself in the shoes of the person who’s making the transition. Let’s say, for example, I’m turning 18 soon and I live with support needs. And I want to spread my wings and be independent, living away from my parents. What do I do?
WO Well, I think there’s two avenues of thought here, really, because it depends on how you’ve been supported through your childhood. Either you’re already have support in place through perhaps a residential school or you’ve been having support come out to the family home and help support you there. Or your family have been doing everything and you’ve had no support at all.
If you’re already receiving support, if you’re perhaps at a residential school, or if you’ve got support, you’re likely to already have a contact from the local authority. If you’re at a residential school, there might be a transitions coordinator, who’s responsibility is to find the best options for people when they’re leaving school and going through that transition to adult services.
However, where it gets a little bit more tricky is if mum and dad have been doing absolutely everything and haven’t had any support. And then they’re trying to work out, right, well, how can I get support? And it’s often very difficult to contact social services. And it’s a difficult thing to do to phone up a social worker and say, my child needs support. Perhaps, you can go see a GP and they’ll refer you to social services and hopefully you’ll get a social worker.
And once the social worker is allocated, they will then come out and complete a social care assessment of your child’s needs and see if they’re eligible for support. And if they are eligible, what level of support are they eligible for? And they’ll be able to recommend you on different options that are available, put you in touch with providers like us or another. But I must say, it’s really vital to do your own research as well.
You’ve got to look at what your child needs. What environment is going to be right for them? What location? What kind of peers would they get on well with? So, you’ve got factor all that stuff in. Do they want their own flat? Would they rather share a house with others? So, you’ve got to think about all that. Go on the internet. There’s… A local authority will have approved provider lists that you can look through. CQC also has a directory which you can look at as well.
And then you can just go online, look at the providers in your area. What’s out there, what's available. Have a look. Get out there. Phone up. Phone people up, ask questions, go out and visit. It sounds like a lot but the more work you do, the better the outcome is going to be for your child.
PC I’m seeing three parties here that we talked about. So, let’s put the family and the individual in one party, even though of course they are kind of two parties. We’ll put them in one party. Then we’ve got the local authority or the council which is also involved. And then in this case, we’ve got us as Lifeways, the provider. So, how do these three parties, if you like, work together to ensure a successful transition?
WO Well, first of all, you’ll have the family or the guardian who are in touch with the local authority and then in touch with the provider. And here at Lifeways, we’ve got a specialist team who can speak to you and guide you through the whole process. We have some content on our website as well which you can download. And it really guides you through what you should expect from the local authority, what you can expect from the service provider, in this case, Lifeways and what you can be doing yourself as a family.
Communication is really important. If you’re struggling to get your social worker to come out to do an assessment, make sure you’re contacting them. Make sure you’re phoning them up raising any concerns. And then as a provider, what we do, we try and find the best support which is most appropriate for your loved one. So, we also come out and complete an assessment and work out what level of support do we think is going to be right for your loved one when they come to live with us.
And during that process, we’re documenting all of the needs, all the stuff that you’ve been doing caring for your children. It’s almost like a handover. We’re speaking to parents, and families, and individuals. And then we complete an assessment and we then… That in fact, is in the amount of support that we’re going to be asking for from the local authority for your loved one. And then we’ll have to get that agreed by the local authority.
PC How long do these transitions take?
WO A transition is different for every person. How long is a piece of string? Some people really need a long, structured transition. We’ve done transitions three to six months. Starting very, very slowly. It’s a big change. So, starting, our support team will come out and meet with the individual perhaps spend a couple of hours just observing or talking to parents, and just slowly building that up. Then they’ll come and visit us at our service. They’ll meet some of the other people that live there and meet the support team.
And gradually over time build their relationships and their confidence. Perhaps it will culminate in some overnight stays before moving just so that everything is ready, every last sort of thing has been thought of and goes as smoothly as it possibly can. In other cases, people might not benefit from a long transition. They might find it quite anxiety-provoking, in which case we’d adapt the model.
So, it’s about sitting down with the family, listening to what the family wants, what the individual needs. What's right for everybody here and making sure that the transition is as smooth as it possibly can be.
PC So, let’s go into a little bit more detail about the support that we offer, and how this can really fit people’s needs. So, perhaps we should actually start by talking about the kind of support that we don’t offer and contrast that with the support that we do offer. For example, a lot of people will ask us about whether we do domiciliary care and stay-in care and things like that. And perhaps you can clarify a little on that.
WO Yes, we provide support for people living in the community but we’re trying to provide support for people to increase their independence and in the long-term so that they can reach their goals. So, it’s not so much dorm care and nipping out for a few hours here and there. We’re providing support and accommodation. It’s a… We’ll provide a house. You’ll have a tenancy. I mean, there’s different options. There are different options available. And it’s all, again, about what’s right for the individual.
So, we have supported living services and they can come in different forms. So, either you could have your own flat. So, your support… And that sounds like a lot. You’ve been living at home your whole life and then suddenly you are out in your own flat. And I can hear parents thinking, oh blimey, I don’t think my child would manage in their own flat.
But that’s where we come in. We’ve got a support plan around them to help them with their finances, with their cooking, cleaning, tenancies. All that kind of stuff which comes from having your own flat and your own front door and that level of independence. And in the long term we’ll look to build these independent living skills and make people more independent over time.
Other options of what we have, some people don’t want to live on their own. Some people want to live with peers, so we have shared houses where people… You’ll have four or five people all living with a disability and they’re all living together. And in this case, it’s really important that we take compatibility very seriously.
We’re thinking about, is this environment going to be right for you? Are you going to get on with your peers? Is there anything going on in that house that you’re not going to like? For example, if you’re very sensitive to noise and somebody likes playing their music really loud. I can't imagine that would go down very well at all. So, these are all the kinds of things that we’re trying to pick up on at the assessment to make sure we get it right.
There’s also residential services as well. They tend to people with slightly more complex needs. And you don’t have your own tenancy. You live in a house with four or five or have many other people, and everything’s communally done by… The food is there. So, for people who aren’t quite ready to take that next step to independence. So, there’s multiple options and that’s another reason it’s so important to really explore, work out what the right option is and make sure that it’s the right option for you.
PC What kind of adaptations have you come across and supported with? For example, we’re talking about hoists and wheelchair accessibility and things. Can you go into that in a little bit more detail how someone’s property might be adapted?
WO So, again, it ties to the assessment process. We’ll come out and we’ll work out what kind of environmental adaptions you might need to your property. And the fact that some of our properties are already equipped, they’re with the adaptions already in place. If not, it is possible to make adaptations specific to individual need. And that is done through the local authority. You make a referral to the occupational therapist who then come out and make a recommendation on what is required.
But it’s basic stuff. If it needs to be a wheelchair accessible of course we’re looking only to find wheelchair accessible accommodation and build the support around that.
PC Great. So, if I'm a social worker working for the council, when I approach Lifeways, let’s say, what other things do I have to arrange? Is it that Lifeways is this one-stop support shop, as it were, or is it a slightly more complicated process than that?
WO Well, the social worker only needs to do their due diligence to make sure that any provider they’re putting forward is the right provider, is acting in the best interest of the individual. And they’ll also have to secure the funding for your loved ones which is the main thing. Because Lifeways will come out and meet your child or loved one who has support needs.
And it might be we have a disagreement. It might be that we say, take for example, someone might need a hundred hours of support a week and the social worker says no actually, we only feel that there’s 70. So, it’s our job to really advocate for that person and tell the social worker that we need to get the funding approved for the right amount of support.
PC I guess one thing I've come across with the people with support that I’ve talked to and also their family members and the interactions that I’ve had with them. It can often be a stressful time making a transition from well, really, one place to the next. I guess what I want to ask is how do you deal with those emotions that may come from both the families and the individuals that we’re about to support?
WO Yes, that’s a very important question. And it’s something we deal with all the time. And we have to have some quite difficult conversations with family members because if you’ve supported your child for a long time, it’s very difficult to let go. And it’s very difficult to feel somebody else can support your child in the same way as what you do or as well as how you do.
We’ve got an example of somebody who’ve recently moved into one of our supported living services we’ve just opened in Norfolk, and he’d always been supported by his family. And they were getting older, and it was becoming more of a challenge. And someone said to them at the day service that they went to, it’s about time you took a step back. And they thought, I don’t know about that. And then they thought about it and then they phoned up our team and they were able to guide them through the process.
It really enabled the parents actually to have a much more fulfilling relationship with their child. They were able to be a parent again and it can change the relationship for the better. As well as other family members. We’ve had examples where brothers and sisters who feel isolated and relationships and family homes are breaking down.
And then they come and have support from us and live away from the family home, and it brings the family much more together. Which sounds quite counterintuitive but allowing parents and guardians that time and then when they do, they can visit whenever they like. So, when they do come to visit, it’s that quality time. It’s not just support, support, support.
PC Great. And following on from that, of course, one of the great things about this role and I'm sure you’d agree, is hearing a lot of the happy stories that happen all the time. Just last week I heard about and actually wrote about a couple who are… Well, two individuals in one of our supported living services who got engaged and they’ve been together now for over a year and they’re planning to get married.
And really, that’s all thanks to just living in that environment where in this case, they’re two doors down from each other. They’re having to live in an apartment block and they’ve each got their own apartment. Could we talk about, perhaps if you can just highlight some examples of stories that really, if you like, transform the lives of people who made this transition?
WO We’ve recently had a young man move into us. He’s just finishing up at his residential school in Cambridgeshire. So, big change. He’s only 17. And moving into a supported living service was a big thing for him. And he was somebody who really required a tailor-made transition right around his needs. Very, very robust. So, what we did in his example is we started the transition when he was 17, before he turned 18.
So, we went out to the school, we met with the school and met with his key workers at the school. He began to develop those relationships with the support staff. And gradually, he would start coming over to us after school, so he could start developing relationships with the support staff there. But also, the other people who live at the service in Cambridge.
And it’s just being flexible and adaptable. And I think that was during a time of Covid, so we had to be extremely adaptable on that case. And it was a great success. The move-in was very smooth. The transition went perfectly. He’s been there a couple of years now and he’s really thriving, which is a real joy to see.
PC Great. You touched on support workers and the support that they deliver. So, what’s a look at an average or if you like, what you might see in someone’s support team? So, for example, if I’m an individual and I move into a supported living service, who’s supporting me?
WO Well, so we will build a support plan around you depending on the need. It’s all person centred. It’s exactly what the individual needs. And that’s all part of the assessment process. And we have one-to-one support, so people who move to us said that it might be that they need x number of one-to-one hours. Individual one-to-one support, one support worker and then you, to help with cooking, cleaning, going out in the community, exploring local interests, exploring employment opportunities, that kind of stuff.
And so, we tailor the support around what's right for that individual and how they can meet their goals. Other people might need a bit less support. So, then they can… Due to that, we wouldn’t want to put too much support in because then that starts to hinder someone’s independence. So, it’s about finding that balance and as I said, that’s about the assessment process and reviewing that regularly about what the right support really is.
PC Great. So, we’ve heard of some examples of support. We’ve heard about the kind of support that we support with. We’ve heard about what transitions really mean. And I want to ask you, what are some really practical things that you’d have to think about when you’re making a transition?
WO So, you’ve lived at home. You probably haven’t got a bed and a sofa and a TV because that belongs to your mom. So that kind of stuff. If you’re going into supported living, white goods in the tenancy normally provided, but you get your own furniture. That’s great fun, isn’t it? Designing your own flat. So, that’s one thing, isn’t it?
And then practically, where are you moving to? What’s out there? What’s available to you? Is there employment opportunity locally? Do you like the football? Is it near the football ground? Do you have interests? Are there things for you to do locally? Compatibility. Is it going to be the right place? Are there going to be people with similar needs, similar interests to you? I’m just making sure that all the things we’ve spoken about today and that as many of those boxes are ticked as possible. And I think you’d be doing quite well.
PC Will, thank you for speaking to us.
WO Absolute pleasure, Paul. It’s been great fun coming on, and good luck with the rest of the series.
PC Absolutely. And thanks to you, the listener, for tuning in to this very first episode of Yes to You. We’ll be releasing new episodes all about adult social care every single month. So, if you haven’t already, please do subscribe to this podcast. See you next time.