When Charlotte, who has both complex health needs and learning disabilities, left college her family found that there were very limited options available for her future. Locally, Charlotte’s only choice was a Day Centre providing activities and care primarily for the elderly and those with dementia.
At 21, this was not the life Charlotte and her family had envisioned, Charlotte was very clear what she wanted from her life and that definitely didn’t involve attending a Day Service with people 3 times her age. She wanted a life like everyone else; going shopping and to the cinema, on holidays and days out, socialising with her friends, as well as continue learning, finding new things to try and being as independent as possible.
Engage Norfolk was born
It was this passion for life and all that it has to offer which inspired Charlotte’s family to launch Engage Norfolk; a service that could support people like Charlotte to live their lives as they choose whilst still receiving the care and support necessary to meet their needs.
Engage Norfolk was founded on the principles of supported living, social inclusion, personal choice, and active support. Again Charlotte played a big part in this, she was clear that she didn’t want someone else bossing her around and telling her how to live her life, she was an adult and wanted to be treated as such; she wanted the control to decide what she wanted to do and how it was going to be done. This meant Engage Norfolk needed to be set up in a way that encouraged a service user led approach to services as well as positive risk taking and a focus on ‘support’ rather than the traditional models of ‘care’, whilst all the time ensuring that the often complex needs of the service users are met.
This was no easy task as decades of established care practice essentially needed to be scrapped and a new model developed. Luckily, this was something Charlotte’s mother, a Health and Social Care lecturer, had dreamt of doing for some time and when the opportunity finally presented itself she threw herself in to it whole heartedly. The result is a company that can provide its service users the services they want, when they need them, with a focus on providing just the right amount of support to facilitate the restoration and maintenance of independence.
Since its launch in 2012 Engage Norfolk has grown in both size and the scope of its services, and now offers support to assist people to be as independent as possible, a range of learning opportunities to increase independence through the development of new skills, as well as leisure opportunities to improve community integration and reduce social isolation, whilst not forgetting the all-important fun factor!