Born into a loving family, Duncan grew up in Kidderminster. From an early age it was evident that Duncan was an energetic child and family life was going to be a rather unpredictable adventure. His family took great care of Duncan with the greatest devotion, and a little extra help from Children’s and Adult Social Care Services.
Duncan was happy at home and had a routine of going to his day centre four days a week and to his respite centre once a week. However, Duncan’s council run day centre closed in 2010 and there was not a suitable local alternative. There was also talk of impending closure of respite services during the period of austerity and these services were a lifeline to Duncan’s family.
Duncan and his family were advised about North Star Foundation through his social worker. Following a brief assessment phase, North Star were able to find suitably skilled workers, a mobility vehicle, and access a base to provide a replacement ‘one to one’ community based day service - all designed with Duncan’s interests and gifts firmly in mind. Duncan is a sociable gentleman and a keen animal lover, especially of birds.
Although social skills are something Duncan is always having to learn because of his autism, Duncan’s relationship with animals is much more straightforward. Duncan quickly found a job on a farm, feeding pigs and mucking out, spending time in the fresh air, walking in wide open spaces, and occasionally snoozing in the hay. Finding jobs for Duncan introduced him to new experiences, helped him learn life skills, and created opportunities for Duncan to work and be a valued citizen with a positive role.
Mum and dad have dedicated their lives to Duncan, and it was good to see a positive outcome from the major change in Duncan’s day services. His family maintained an orderly and predictable home life for Duncan, which was safe and secure, but a question persisted on their mind…………
“What happens if we can’t do it anymore….. How can Duncan’s housing and support needs be met for the long term?”
There was not another care setting in the world which could replace mum and dad’s comfortable home and which was as safe and secure. North Star Foundation operates on the principle that those who really care and look out for people are the ones that need to be involved in planning their future. Perhaps the question that needed asking was a different one ………..
“How can and mum and dad stay involved without being there 24/7?”
Five years on from the start of North Star’s involvement there was a discussion with family and social worker about moving Duncan in to his own home and building on the good work already underway. A small steering group was established including Duncan’s key health and social care personnel and Duncan moved into a bungalow close to his family in 2017. The move was taken gradually at Duncan’s pace.
Duncan’s home is a place where he can be himself – it has a space to park his mobility vehicle on the drive and Duncan can explore the world and come home for rest and comfort. Duncan has a ‘handpicked’ support team whom he feels secure with and who are aided by mum and dad. Duncan visits his family every Sunday for lunch and there is a strong feeling of having an ordinary adult son / parent relationship.
Life is good when it features choice and control, friends and family, and freedom and we need those people to work together. The people in Duncan’s life have worked together solidly and devotedly to make the dream of an independent future a reality.
Working with Duncan’s family is an excellent example of truly personalised support arrangements. Had things been different, he might have faced specialist residential care provision, perhaps far from home. We all need people who care about us to look out for us and Duncan’s Story is concrete evidence that those who really care and look out for us are the ones that need to be involved.