Bowls sessions provide a range of benefits

One of the most popular activities that we arrange in-house for our service users is the weekly bowling sessions that we hold in the main hall at The Mews each Monday.

We are fortunate to have Duggie Mitchell on our team, who is an experienced bowling instructor and has played competitive bowls for 35 years with success at Club, County and National levels. Duggie joined the board of Disability Bowls England in 2016 and continues to be inspired by the achievements of people with disabilities. His experience, skill and enthusiasm for the game as well as his empathy with the service users have contributed to the success of the sessions. Duggie is assisted by Lisa Hutchins, the Administrator at 144 Boughton Green Road, who helps with the organisation and keeps the score.

Bowling adapted to suit the players
The format of the game is Short Mat Bowling, which is very similar to Carpet Bowling. A mat 45 feet long and 6 feet wide is laid out in the main hall with guards at either end to stop the bowls running too far. A jack is placed at one end of the mat and each player uses weighted bowls to try and hit the jack. We have adapted the rules to meet the cognition needs and suit the various abilities of the players. They bowl eight balls each and Lisa records the number of ‘strikes’. People from all of our homes join in and we have a league in which around 20 players take part. One of our service users who is blind has mastered bowling very successfully. Other service users come along to watch and support, and it’s a lively, social occasion with lots of cheering.

Key benefits to individuals
What may just look like a leisure activity is actually an important element of our service users’ care. As well as being very enjoyable, the bowling sessions also help to improve:

Physical strength and dexterity
Cognition and communication
Motivation and self-esteem
Social Skills

Duggie has been running the sessions for around two years and new players can join in at any time. He has noticed significant improvements in some of the participants and says: “I have seen so much change in many of the group since we started: going from little or no eye contact or verbal communication in the early days to total interaction and response. My partner and I went along to the Christmas party recently and it was lovely to have them recognise us and want us to join them dancing.”

Thank you to Duggie and Lisa for their help and commitment to these sessions. They have contributed to some significant improvement and much enjoyment for our service users.

Duggie Mitchell demonstrating short mat bowls

Duggie Mitchell demonstrating short mat bowls

The Joys and Benefits of the Local Pub

Reports show that in today’s modern world, where people are ‘online and connected’ 24 hours a day, they are less likely to know their neighbours. This can lead to a sense of loss of community, isolation and loneliness.

For people with disabilities, this risk of being isolated from the local community is even greater. At The Richardson Partnership for Care, there is a sense of community within each home and a choice of communal spaces, so services users can choose what to do and who to socialise with. Service users also have their own programme of activities, which is designed to support them in their development, as part of their care plan.

However, sometimes there is nothing quite like going to the local pub for a meal. Routine and familiarity are very important for many of our service users with learning difficulties and they particularly like going to The Cock, in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. It’s a comfortable and friendly place to be and it’s run by Rob and Liz who are always happy and welcoming towards our service users. They have a great rapport with our staff and service users and do what they can to support positive experiences for the individuals in our care.

Rob the manager

Rob, the Manager at The Cock

And it’s not just staff at ‘The Cock’ who are friendly. Many of the regulars also have time for the service users and this supports important social relationships within the community. It really does make their local pub feel like it’s their local too.

Delicious and great value food, whether it’s ‘Cowboy burger and chips’ or ‘curry night’, mean that this a favourite place for many of our service users and it’s frequently requested when we’re discussing social activities. Along with Rob and Liz, we would like to thank Mark the chef and staff members Shan, Beth and Claire who also play an important role in welcoming and supporting our service users when they visit The Cock.

The Cock is on Harborough Road at the Cock Hotel Junction, serves food daily from 12 noon until 7:30pm and is open from 12 noon till 11pm. You can contact Rob and Liz on 01604 715 221 and find out more at

The Cock, Kingsthorpe

The Cock, Kingsthorpe – our local pub

How music can help people with learning disabilities

Music can have a profound effect on people – it can stir emotions and the act of singing can have a liberating and joyous effect on those taking part.

In our homes for adults with learning difficulties, an entertainer and music coach visits us once a week. Known as ‘Martin the Music Man’, Martin Reeves plays a range of instruments including the guitar and ukulele, and sings songs from different eras. One of Martin’s main aims is to encourage participation and he comes equipped with all sorts of percussion instruments so that service users can join in and have fun. He makes each session as interactive as possible and many of the service users really look forward to the sessions. They have a great sense of rhythm and clearly enjoy their contribution. Music helps them to engage with their peers in ways that they may find too difficult in other circumstances. It also helps to develop concentration, participation and confidence.

Some of our service users with learning disabilities can find group activities overwhelming, so they choose to avoid the music sessions to do other activities on their own. However, by being introduced to music at their own pace, some have made remarkable progress. For example, family members, staff and a social worker commented on how one individual has vastly increased their participation and how their confidence has grown in the last year.

Our support staff first noticed that they showed more interest when the ‘Music Man’ came to the home, but still declined to take part. The support staff introduced them to some of the musical instruments used in the music session, and they gradually became more and more involved.

By offering music sessions once a week and by supporting the individual needs of our service users with learning disabilities, we find that they can take small but significant steps. This contributes to increased and sustained participation, confidence and well-being over time.

Martin the Music Man

Martin the Music Man

Admissions And Referrals Team Complete ASDAN Training

The Admissions Team attended ASDAN Training in August this year, and wanted to share the experience with you our Blog readers.

As you may know, Richardsons became a centre for ASDAN back in May. ASDAN is a charitable social enterprise with awarding body status which provides programmes and qualifications to accredit skills for learning, skills for employment and skills for life.

Our team worked in groups with care staff from all of our Homes to complete sections of the Independent Living Module with a specific Service User in mind so that they could think about how they would complete the record boxes. The “record boxes” are used to reflect: the Service User’s achievements; the level of support they received; and the skills that they used. (These boxes are also then used later on to provide evidence and refer to other sections within the accreditation process.)

The types of activities the Service User may need to evidence in this Independent Living module are things like making breakfast or making a hot drink. The ASDAN programmes are brilliant in that you can simulate an activity like making a hot drink and the person (Service User) could use cool water and perform the task out of the kitchen (at a table for example) so that they still engage and achieve making a drink, but in a way that manages the risk of them being in the kitchen or around hot water. After a simulated task has been completed, our staff can then replace the simulated drink with an actual drink so that effectively the person has made their own drink in a safe way.

ASDAN recognises the level of support that people need to complete an activity which is very helpful when trying to reflect the level of skill which the Service User can achieve.

To the Admissions Team (Sian, Louise, Bill and Diane) ASDAN means that they can speak plausibly to people about specific ways in which a potential Service User could engage with the ASDAN activities. It also means that we can actively promote ASDAN as an essential part of an activity schedule within our Homes. As a team…we are also able to support a particular Service User in a particular situation with their activities, because we have also been trained alongside with the care staff in the Homes. (We are all based at The Mews, so we engage with Service Users daily.)

What we love about ASDAN is that it demonstrates that intensive residential care services can still promote and support people to maintain, gain and regain independent living skills in the most tailored and person-centred way. This fits in nicely with our ethos of person-centred care.

Louise Pittam, the Admissions and Referral Team manager (right) says that “It has made us aware that there is always something a Service User CAN do, through task simulation. Everyone should have this opportunity.”

If you would like to find out more about our person-centred care, or indeed about the ASDAN programmes we run, please feel free to give us a call on 01604 791 266. ASDAN are also on Twitter if you would like to follow them there.

Summer Holiday 2012 | Lincolnshire for Boughton Green Rd

Finally, after months of planning, the Service Users at our Boughton Green Rd Home set-out on their summer holiday for 2012. This year they chose to go to a Haven’s resort in Lincolnshire – called Golden Sands. And the name says it in a nutshell!

The staff and Service Users stayed in caravans  and everyone really enjoyed themselves. The staff particularly felt that they had all worked very well together as a team to help give the Services Users a special holiday to be remembered. The Service Users were organised into two smaller groups with the caravans – which helped to ensure that each Service User benefitted from social inclusion and small, individualized group activities – offering a variety of choices.  Importantly – the Service Users were able to interact with the community and they engaged with each other and with the staff.

The staff were happy to see a lot of positive interaction and communication amongst the Service Users – they were willing to share and definitely more patient and tolerant of each other. (Great social skills!)

It has to be said that upon their return – the house was just buzzing from everyone’s eagerness to reshare their memories from their holiday and very keen make a scrapbook of pictures to capture the best times from the week away.

Some of the activities that the Service Users and staff tried out were the rides at the funfair (including some brave people who tried the bungee trampoline!) and the pedlows on the lake (great for co-ordination).

Because of the time of year some of the group managed to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it passed through the town. They loved it and got caught up in the excitement alongside the rest of the residential community lining the streets to welcome the torch bearer.

Another successful Service User holiday was had by all – and mainly because they all had an input into where they went and what they would do when they got there. We also have a fab bunch of staff who always go above and beyond…to truly enrich the lives of our Service Users. I’d like to say a big thank you to our Homes staff for your valuable support during these Service User holidays!

Day Out – The London Dungeons

We are constantly searching for new activities, day trips or experiences for our Service Users in order to aid their rehabilitation. Here is an example of one such day where two of our Service Users chose what they would like to do in London for the day.

They caught the train to London and worked out which underground line they needed to get to the Dungeons. They had a lovely lunch at a pub nearby and after planning what they would like to do, they made their way to the Dungeons (following a tourist map). The Service Users relayed back to us that they had great fun in the Dungeons and had a good giggle at the skeletons in the dark alleys and on the boat ride. They enjoyed seeing different genres of “spooky” including Sweeny Todd; Judges; and the Fire of London…to name a few.  They had just enough time to grab the proverbial touristy shot (see below), buy a take-away and hop back on the train to Northampton.

There are great benefits to Service Users taking part in choosing activities they would like to do, plan their day including travel events and holidays.  Some of our Service Users prefer to go on outings on a one-to-one basis whereas others prefer group outings and holidays.  The experience not only gives them choices but enables them to make decisions in all aspects of their lives promoting their independence  which also gives the opportunity of flexing the skills of planning and making journeys…being aware of locations; the value of money; as well as safety and social skills interaction  when out in the community.  All of this means that from a rehabilitation perspective, the Service User is being able to make decisions  promoting their independence to plan forward and achieve goals.

A big thank you to Wendy Coleman (Homes Manager at Duston Rd) for sharing this lovely day out with us, in order that we can provide you, our readers, with some insights into the valuable breadth of our rehabilitation efforts for our Service Users.

RPC Becomes A Centre For The Awards Scheme Development Accreditation Network (ASDAN)

This month we qualified to become a recognised centre with ASDAN, the charitable social enterprise with awarding body status, which provides courses to more than 6,000 UK and international schools, colleges, youth centres and training providers. ASDAN’s programmes and qualifications offer flexible ways to accredit skills for learning, skills for employment and skills for life. Now, with our “centre” status, this means that we can provide ASDAN programmes for our own service users in their own environments, by the people they are comfortable with….our staff.

What this means in practise, is that any or all our service-users can work towards, maintain or improve independence in areas such creativity; everyday living; going to work; attending college; practising horticulture; cooking and so much more. All of our staff, across the organisation, will be trained in how to assist our service users in their competency levels in carrying out  tasks. Even our service-users with profound multiple learning disabilities are able to engage in this scheme which can be assessed through photographs, picture exchange and Makaton signs (approved language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate) – so as to not exclude them to personally develop in areas of capability.

Our service-users will be certificated via modules which they will complete with the help of our ASDAN trained staff. We are really excited to include this new area of personal development for our service users to our palette of activities and therapies we provide for our service users to take advantage of.

To find out more about our environment of care for our service users and how we focus on their own personal growth and goals – please visit our website, or call us on 01604 791 266.