Catherine was born with a rare skin disorder (Incontinentia Pigmenti) which affects her whole central nervous system. She has a severe learning disability and a physical disability. In addition, she was diagnosed with autism at age 19.
Catherine’s mum, Dawn, wanted her daughter to live independently and to be happy with the decision that was made about her home. “Over the years living at home Catherine’s behaviour had gradually grown worse. She was diagnosed with autism quite late and we realised she needed specialist care in an independent setting,” says Dawn.
Living with five other people in a Reside property and having support workers of a similar age has dramatically improved Catherine’s life. “Catherine moved into her home when she was 22. Her behaviour and speech has improved – it’s so much better. The way she dresses is much younger because of the staff that support her. She’s just a different person; I knew she had it in her.”
The support provided by Community Integrated Care (CIC) has not only benefited Catherine, but it has also helped the family cope with challenging situations. “Going out with Catherine as a family had in the past been so difficult. A support worker started to join us whenever we had an outing which was great; that really helped us manage her behavior,” says Dawn. “After a year of this, I finally felt confident to go out with her on my own. I can now take her anywhere and her behaviour has improved immensely.”
Improving the garden for the tenants
To improve life for Catherine and her housemates, Dawn and her partner Jon offered to help with a garden makeover at the property in February 2020. “I spoke to Catherine and the other people she shares with to find out what they would like. It turned out the dream garden would have a hydrotherapy hot tub, corner seating, a log burner and a greenhouse!”
Dawn set about preparing plans and liaising with Reside and CIC to gain permission, as there were a number of health and safety considerations. Her fundraising goal was set at £12,000. The hot tub alone cost £8,000 but North Spas offered to install decking and the electrics for free. Other friends and local companies offered their services for free too, such as a tree surgeon who removed the conifers and another civil engineer who helped with landscaping.
“We started the garden makeover just before the first lockdown, so unfortunately everything came to a halt. We restarted in May 2020, but with further lockdowns we realised we would be better to take it slowly and plan it in stages with Reside,” says Dawn.
Dawn firmly believes that a hydrotherapy hot tub and a relaxing outdoor area will be beneficial in terms of health and wellbeing. “There’s a long way to go, but I think that Catherine and her housemates should have what anybody else aspires to have in their garden. Not only is it great for their wellbeing, it’s good for their mental health to have a beautiful outdoor space in which to relax.”
If you would like to contribute to the garden makeover fundraising, Dawn has set up a GoFund Me page
Dawn and her partner Jon
Removing the conifers
You can also read more about how we support tenants and work with support providers here