The project was established over 5 years ago and is one of a number set up by Ark Housing, a volunteer organization1. The organization itself has been existence for over 7 years concentrating its efforts in the east of Scotland. 1. 2 Organisations Initiatives The local community showed evidence that a new project should be established. Two people and some local residents put a plan in implementation and with fund-raising they ‘build up’ Marshtown. Once the project was up ten people were living in it. 1. 3 Ark Housing Aim
(Ark Housing)It is an organization which aims to provide housing for adults with learning difficulties2 and make people as independent as possible, realizing their potential. It is not intending to teach people skills, either living or socially skills, occurring the residents leaving. Ark’s philosophy is ‘a community home for life for each resident, or until that resident says that they want to leave. Ark Housing continues to be successful by the fact that the number of adults is continually increasing.
1. 4 Project Management of Marshtown Although things are running smoothly in Marshtown there are some issues which must be taken into consideration for our benefit. There is a head office which is divided in a personnel officer, director, administrative staff and a residential services department who oversee the whole situation. There have been consultations that it may be a line manager which will go to Ark rather than to the Local Committee3.
It will be useful to have a line manager to inform Ark Management Director when they have to deal with an issue because they will be more organized as a whole and the Ark Director won’t have to inform two separate sides, saving a lot of vital time. 1. 5 Inter – relationships in Marshtown Relationships with the local authority are very good and we are both trying to provide as good service as possible to the residents. Our common aim is to offer our help and support for the benefit of our residents. Despite the fact that social workers take a back seat when residents come in, they are willing to send someone to help us if we simply asked.
We work closely with doctors and that’s with individuals, and our relationship is powerful because many people know us and will give us advice and that is very supportive and helpful. Relationships with the community education service seem to be particularly strong although not all residents go to adult training classes. Caring for a resident with a learning disability is a lifelong commitment, which continues even when the person is living away from the family home. As carers we make a vital contribution to the lives of people with learning disabilities, often providing most of the support they need.
As the Marshtown Staff worker representative I am responsible for the adults’ supervision and assistant. I am aware of the problems that Marshtown faces and I want to make suggestions and possible solutions for these matters. I came up with some ways of attractive staff and volunteers in Marshtown, and the most important how to work with these adults with learning difficulties. 1. 7. 1 Targeting Volunteers Even though Ark House is a voluntary organisation there are not enough volunteers to carry out the work needed, to fulfill the residents’ expectations.
I would like to highlight that the people we see everyday are all potential volunteers and we fail to see them as such. In recruiting volunteers we are not only looking for people with specific skills and experience, but also for those with the potential to carry out the work with support and training. The message needs to be spread to a broad audience and is good to start looking in the local community first because local people will have a stake in what happens in their area. It will also be easier for them to get to us, keeping down the travel expenses.
A variety of methods can be used for the broadest scope such as: word of mouth, through existing staff, leaflet distribution, poster, colleges. (http://www. volunteering. com. au/find_volunteers) 1. 7. 2 Recruiting Staff There are only four full time assistants and only one part time who are not enough for the number of residents. The staff involved in projects have varied backgrounds and come from different professions. (For example the project co-ordinator was a teacher and wasn’t trained for this job) Successful staff recruitment depends on knowing the sort of people most likely to be qualified in this kind of work.
The work involves specific skills and experience so it will be best recruitment to be targeted at places where we will find people with the necessary skills and experience. (Michael Armstrong, 1998) Widespread and general appeals may raise a lot of interest but will be less efficient than direct targeting. One way to identify where to find staff is by establishing whether there is a common factor in their backgrounds – employment, education. (http://ucsfhr. ucsf. edu. htm) 1. 7. 2. 1 Training existing staff The existing staff in Marshtown should be trained.
If staff is to perform different functions than hitherto with a fundamental re-orientation in their attitudes towards an individual approach to meeting residents’ needs, they will require the training necessary to allow them to perform these functions well and to help alleviate their anxieties and uncertainties. There will be a need for staff to extend and develop their existing skills and some may move in the direction of becoming ‘specialists’ in particular areas. (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2003. Microsoft Corporation. ) 1. 7. 3 Funding of Residents
The money is paid by DSS to the resident who in turn pays it to Ark for their accommodation might be stopped going to residents and might be paid in bulk to Ark House. This is an ethical problem because when the residents pay Ark House, they feel they can operate money (feel important) I strongly disagree with this matter because for as long as I am working with the residents I have seen that this action (paying the Ark house on their own) makes them feel special and capable of completing a transaction. It is my responsibility to make them believe that they are just like the rest of us and can act as sufficient.
Taking away this doing will make them feel literally disempowered as individuals, leaving them passive and reluctant in making choices. 1. 7. 4 New Activities Activities that most people take for granted – meeting people, catching a bus, having a girlfriend or boyfriend and going to the cinema – can be hard for someone who has a learning disability. Often this is quite simply because of the way society is organised. There are various projects, including befriending schemes, clubs, adult education classes, job training and specialist holidays, that can help adults with learning difficulties to lead more fulfilling lives.
(http://www. sett. ed. ac. uk) I suggest that Marshtown should run adult training centres or social education centres, which aim to offer continuing education or work training, as well as providing a focal point for people with learning disabilities to meet friends. I would like to emphasis on enabling people to take part in their communities in ways that would be valued by their non-learning-disabled peers. Such activities might include going swimming, having a paper round and going to the pub or other local amenities.
We could assist residents with shopping, personal activities and general home-life. We can also give them support by making the evening meal or their breakfast and accompany the residents on social outings, cinema, theatre and pub. Visiting this webpage I realized that involvement in sports4 and leisure activities can meet more specific purposes such as community integration, educational experience and social development and should be considered as part of the residents’ activities. Recreational activities such as music, art, dance and drama can also be part of a therapeutic programme.
Such programmes aim to use the recreational activity to overcome communication difficulties by enabling a person to find expression through an artistic medium. (http://www. markwalton. net/learningdisabilities/htm) Marshtown staff will need to consider, particularly in relation to more physically demanding sport or recreation, the question of risk and will need to be aware of any circumstance that prevents people from engaging in these. ( For example, those with Down’s Syndrome who contribution from all its citizens)