Sociable and bubbly Lucy is 14 years old, she has downs syndrome and lives at home with Mum, Nicola, and Dad, Steven.
Nicola explains the support her daughter requires:
“Lucy needs help with being reminded to go to the toilet, with personal care and with her medication. She needs someone to be there as she can wander, she can get up during the night and wander through the house and I can often find her in the early hours of the morning on her iPad. Or if the doors aren’t locked, she will leave the house on her own.”
A few years ago, due to strains on family life, Nicola, looked into further support and respite options that were available to her family. She was then introduced to Aberlour Options Adventures by Jan.
Aberlour Options Adventures was an ideal solution for Lucy.
“The social aspect and the experiences Lucy gains from an adventure are vital. She is 14 years old, so she is at a stage where she wants to try different things and meet and socialise with people. And these are things I want her to experience. If Lucy was a neuro-typical child, she would be getting these experiences through school and clubs. But because she isn’t a neuro-typical child there aren’t many opportunities for her and a lot of these activities I have to support her with.”
“However, by going away on an Adventure with Jan and the team, a team I absolutely trust, who know my daughter and the support she needs, she gets to try new activities and go away on residentials with a group of children that are equally as able as her and as sociable as her. She is getting these experiences without her mum in the background. She gets to hang out with her friends.”
Recently Lucy had to miss out on a few adventures due to an overhaul in the local authority respite service.
“Lucy missed out on adventures as there has been an overhaul in the system and the way that the council were allocating support. The criteria changed and Lucy was deemed not to be eligible for the direct payment I was getting so this stopped. It meant we only had four respite sessions within the Aberlour Options house which are absolutely brilliant, but they weren’t meeting her social needs. Lucy is really out going and often during these house stays she is with non-verbal and non-mobile children. Lucy needs more than that, so I felt that she was going around with an adult instead of being sociable with other children or her peers. So, she was missing out on a lot by not attending the adventures.”
Nicola, with the help of Jan, campaigned to ensure Lucy can attend adventures again. Thankfully the local authority has now agreed for this support to be returned to the family.
“At the end of the day Lucy is 14, she isn’t a little girl who wants her mum on top of her all the time, and at home we have to have the doors locked as she takes off to go to my mums. I have to keep the doors locked to keep her safe. I have to keep an eye on her all the time as she puts things in the microwave and switches them on. So attending an adventure with her friend lets her be independent in a safe space, it is letting her be her.”
“She loves attending the adventures and has an absolute ball. She is always buzzing when she comes home and can’t wait to tell us everything, she has gotten up too.”
Aberlour Options Adventures not only provides a vital service for Lucy, but also for Nicola and Steven.
“It means that my husband and I, can have sometime because he works nights so sometimes he is away for work before we come in from school and sometimes we are away to school before he comes in. I am basically a single parent most of the time. We don’t get a lot of time. It offers valuable time for us as a couple.”
“Adventures allows families to have respite time, it is a life saver sometimes for some families. Because you struggle on day to day to day and then you have this time – you drop them off, you know that they are safe, you know that they are happy, you know that their needs are being met and they are fulfilled in what they are doing. And you can quite happily go to the cinema, go for a meal out knowing that she is well cared for. It is just brilliant.”
“Adventures provides inclusion, as everyone is doing the same activities at the same time. It is like a wee holiday for Lucy and her friends which is a really valuable experience for them. It really makes such a difference.”