For the first 20 years of her life, Jade divided her time between her home and her special school in Surrey but, when the time came to leave school, her family faced a big decision about her future. Jade has Rett’s Syndrome and requires high levels of support to help in carrying out all day-to-day tasks,such as eating, washing and dressing and to manage her complex behavioural and health issues. She is also a very active young lady who likes to live life to the full.
Having investigated both day and residential care options, her parents had some difficulties in securing a suitable placement until they visited Redlands House, an eight-bedroom home especially for young adults in Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Mum, Julia Roberts-Brown said: “She was nearly 20 when she left school and our initial plan was for her to go to a special needs college, but one by one the different colleges that we tried all said she wasn’t suitable. It was at that point that we thought maybe we should look into residential care because my husband and I also weren’t getting any younger and looking after her can be hard work.
“Our social worker had already heard of Redlands, but I wasn’t keen initially, as I thought it was too far from Surrey. I eventually went with my husband and we fell in love with the place as there was so much room and potential, and also it only had eight beds, which we thought was a good size. We got on very well with the manager straight away and we felt we could trust her,which was the most important consideration.”
Once the social worker and local authority had taken care of the relevant paperwork, the next priority was to get Jade used to her new surroundings, by spending some time there on a transitional basis.
Julia added: “We visited the home three or four times before Jade moved in – we all went together the first time, then on later visits we left her there to see how she got on. In fact, Jade adapted very quickly, which was amazing, and she is now so happy there that when she is on her way back from visiting us, we can see how excited she gets when we reach the turning for the home.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better home for Jade – it was heart-wrenching when we first left her, but more for us than for her, as she settled in so well.
“I know I can ring the manager at any time if I have any concerns, and she also emails regularly to keep us up to date with what Jade is doing. How often we visit is totally up to us as parents – we go there and bring her home every other weekend, which works very well for us, but I know if we weren’t able to get there for longer for whatever reason, she would be in good hands.
“They work out a schedule for Jade and shortly after moving in, she was taking part in a variety of activities like swimming and horse riding. But it’s always based on what suits her. For example, the first time she went horse riding, she just spent the whole session stroking the horses and then the next time they asked her if she would like to get on one, which she did. Everything is always done gradually and at a pace Jade is comfortable with.
“Probably the biggest advantage for Jade now is that she is a lot freer,she has a lot more space to move around and in her own way, I think she has grown up. The other residents and staff are all of a similar age, and they all have a lot of fun together, doing the things that young people do – she’ll go to the pub, to a meal or go shopping and just have many of the same experiences that other people of her own age do.”