A positive change in the lives of six people with learning disabilities marked the end of an era for Adult Social Care services as The Roseville Laundry finally closed!
Some people would rightly be surprised to find social care services being the proprietor of a laundry business (we also once owned a hotel and a door-making factory, but that’s another story).
Roseville Enterprises was established to provide employment for people with a physical and/or learning disability. It had for years taken in the laundry of care homes and catering businesses across the city. Most workers had been there for ten, even twenty years, doing the same thing, day in, day out. Employment in the laundry offered a secure environment but at the same time was a form of segregation, with little chance of moving on, improving daily routine, developing broader skills or being fully included.
In 2007, the decision was made to phase out the laundry. The notion of integrating disabled people into the wider workforce initially presented the council with a few challenges. New thinking and new attitudes were needed to see disabled people as part of a team of workers and not as a client. As a responsible and caring employer, the council took steps to find new opportunities for the Roseville workforce, talking with them about their skills and ambitions and gradually introducing new opportunities.
How fitting then the last six people from Roseville are able to use their skills and gain new experience in the council’s state-of-the-art Assisted Living Leeds (ALL) building.
Here, they are part of a service that delivers equipment and support to older and disabled people in Leeds. ALL provides a customer-facing service for people applying for Blue Badges – currently 3,000 assessments per year, and is developing an information service on assistive technology. It is home to the Leeds Community Equipment Service and Telecare, who provide services to people via thousands of health and social care staff who request equipment and Telecare for people in their own homes. The work of ALL is backed-up by a large warehousing operation, which purchases and delivers assistive technology and saves the council and health service money by recovering, cleaning, repairing and re-circulating equipment returned when people no longer need it.
For the people transferring to ALL from the Roseville laundry, the contrast in the working environment couldn’t be greater. For years, change has been endemic across the council and has been met with various degrees of enthusiasm by affected staff.
Liz Ward, Head of Service for Reablement and Assistive Technology , who has overall responsibility for ALL is full of admiration for the way the staff moving from Roseville have relished the changes in their working lives, and have accepted their new routines, including learning new routes from home to work, without complaint. Liz says,
“Our new colleagues are an example to us all in embracing change and adapting to new ways of working in a totally new environment. Initially it has taken them right out of their comfort zone and has meant getting to know lots of new colleagues. I am very impressed how the staff working at ALL, which is a mix of council and Leeds Community Healthcare employees, have welcomed the new staff. We worked hard to provide them with the right working environment and roles. We have been rewarded by the richness they have brought to life at ALL. It’s all about people finding their niche and becoming contributing and valued members of the ALL team.”
The Leeds Community Equipment Service issued over 82,000 items of equipment in 2014 and collected back 60,000, this includes items such as walking frames, mattresses, shower stools and toilet frames. Equipment to the value of £15 million is currently out in people’s homes around Leeds. Prior to being re-used, the returned equipment has to be thoroughly cleaned (for infection control purposes) and repaired if required. Telecare have 16,000 customers connected to the response centre, which operates 24 hour a day 365 days a year, so there is always someone there to help.
At the end of July, a lunchtime tombola was held and tea and homemade cake served to welcome the new ALL staff on board. A fantastic £100 was raised for the ALL charity, which at the moment is the Charcot Marie Tooth Association.
Written by Tony Harte and Shirley Johnson
For more information on Assisted Living Leeds you can visit their website at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/c/Pages/assistedLiving/leedscommunityequipmentservice.aspx