We’re delighted to share that Rhodelands, one of Voyage Care’s residential care homes in Derbyshire, are our 31st service to achieve their autism accreditation, awarded by the National Autistic Society (NAS).
We spoke with Rhodelands service manager, Helen Dean, to learn more about their accreditation journey and what the award means to the team and people we support at Rhodelands.
Tell us about the journey, and what it was like to finally hear that you had achieved the autism accreditation!
We actually started our accreditation in 2017, so it has been quite a journey! As we were working through it, COVID-19 hit and that changed the way that we had to work. During that time, we also had a fire and two floods at Rhodelands, so there were times where it was challenging to be fully focussed on the accreditation. However, the team at Rhodelands are so passionate about what we do, we managed to push through and get to where we needed to be, ready for our assessments.
The day we were notified that we had achieved the accreditation, we were all so chuffed! We celebrated with a fish and chip tea!
How did the team at Rhodelands stay positive and on track during the accreditation process, especially with the added challenges?
We are dedicated to delivering a high level of support to the people that live at Rhodelands. The team were so resilient through all the challenges we faced. There were periods where we temporarily paused our focus on achieving the accreditation and that was ok, as our primary focus was continuing to provide high levels of support for our residents – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were happy when we could pick it back up and now it’s all done it feels quite strange! We are really passionate about supporting people with autism, and achieving this accreditation made it all worthwhile.
Are there any key learnings that you’ll be taking away from completing the accreditation?
The NAS accreditation has enhanced the way we work, and it provided us with more structure. We identified that some of the things we felt were normal practice could be used as part of the accreditation evidence.
One thing that was highlighted as part of the assessment was how we promote a sense of responsibility for our residents and ensure that activities are meaningful. For example, during COVID-19 we couldn’t go out to the pub for a meal, so everybody made their own place mats and coasters. We then used these on our table to enjoy a three-course meal at home and the people we support recognised their own work.
We also held our own music festival. During the build-up and preparation, the people we support made decorations, tested out different cocktails and decided on the food they wanted on the day. When we got to the festival, they could relate to each of the elements they had helped with.
Was there anything that stood out to you during the process?
The hard work and dedication of the team, along with our resilience to overcome so many challenges and still produce the level of work required to achieve the accreditation. It wasn’t just about completing a task, there was lots of background work to pull together including photo and video evidence.
As part of the accreditation, our staff members were interviewed, and they were a little nervous to begin with. When they came out of the interview, they were really pleased and proud – they had realised how great they are and how much they have achieved.
What’s next for Rhodelands?
With Christmas coming up, we’ll start thinking about festive activities. We’ll continue to ensure the people we support have a sense of ownership in these activities, so this might include things like making decorations to put up around the home, baking for all the residents and having an input into their Christmas dinner.
Our autism specialism
We’re committed to providing the best quality care at support for autistic people, with many of our services working towards their autism accreditation. The implementation of our accreditation programme is led by Shaji Rajamony (Raj), Voyage Care’s Autism Specialism Implementor. Here’s what Raj shared about Rhodelands achieving their accreditation:
“Apart from delivering all the benchmark standards required for NAS standards, Rhodelands stand out by involving autistic people to unfurl their imaginations and support them to make creative objects. These objects are used on a day to day activities in such a way autistic people can relate to familiar signature objects, which empowers a celebration of achievement. “
Find out more
Would you like to learn more about Voyage Care’s autism specialism? Head over to our Autism Support page to read more about how we support autistic people and how you can make an autism support enquiry.