Supporting people back to the community

Watkins House is a vital part of how we transform the lives of many patients with learning disability. It's a six-bedroom house in a quiet street near our Northampton site, designed to set people up for a successful return to the community. Katy and Shamiso, nurses at the house, explain how it works:

What’s different about working in Watkins House compared with an ‘average’ St Andrew’s ward?
Shamiso: The most obvious difference is the surroundings. Watkins House looks and feels homely, with typical decor and personal paintings and photos from the patients’ adventures around the house. The focus to safely and successfully integrate people into the community - so it's mainly about teaching them the skills they need to live more independently.
Katy: In terms of day to day work, you're mainly supporting community tasks - so it's about helping people engage with one another, understand each other's behaviour and to plan activities and social events.

What does Watkins House do to support service users?
Shamiso: Patients are involved in the day to day running of the ward - especially meal planning, cooking, budgeting, gardening and cleaning the house. We encourage patients to take responsibility for themselves, their peers and their surroundings to prepare them for an independent, fulfilling and meaningful life in the community. Another big difference is the level of freedom service users have, whether it's to use a local gym, go out for meals or visit the cinema.

What do patients like about Watkins House?
Shamiso: Life here is pretty fun! The weekend is normally packed with therapeutic and recreational activities. By involving residents in the planning they get to demonstrate their communication and decision-making skills and learn to adapt to living within a group setting, which fosters team spirit. All these skills will be very useful upon their discharge into the community.
Katy: The most positive comments are usually about how much the residents enjoy having greater levels of choice and control within their daily lives - and the food!

What are the best parts of your job at Watkins House?
Shamiso: Being able to support service users to fulfill their potential. It's great to see them grow their understanding of risk management, improving their social skills and getting to grips with the activities of daily living.
Katy: For me it's about the results: helping people become confident, develop and thrive as they move away from an instutional hospital setting.

How do you know when people are getting closer to leaving Watkins House?
Katy: It becomes clear that they are ready to leave as they become more independent. They are often less visible in the house as they become increasingly busy with a full timetable, including social events and possibly some work-based placements. With an intellectually disabled person progress can be slow, but there is great job satisfaction in knowing that their improvement is due to our interventions.
Usually their next placements will be nearer family and we work to maintain and promote family links and positive contacts. Each person is given relapse prevention and coping skills, and the support required to lead a fulfilling life once they leave us.

How do you feel when a patient moves on from Watkins House?
Shamiso: Mixed emotions, really. You're a little sad as you have built a rapport with the resident - but at the same time you're happy that they have achieved their goal to move on. As a nurse you always hope that they will be able to implement what they learnt from therapeutic and social interactions during their stay in Watkins House.

If you're interested in working at Watkins House, contact our recruitment team.