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When is the Right Time to Move Out of Home?

Imagine getting to the age of 33 and never having lived independently. For most people, moving out of their childhood home is a rite of passage towards adulthood, that we aspire to. It’s the same for the people Guideposts supports in our day services, who have a range of learning and physical disabilities.

group at Guideposts with thumbs up

We are delighted that a long-term member of our community, Mia, has recently moved into a supported living apartment at the age of 33. She has been attending GLADS (Guideposts Learning and Activity Day Service) for over 10 years, 5 days a week, so it’s a big change for her as well as for us.

Mia’s move is really positive. Moving into a shared and supported flat means she has gained her own independence, giving her greater day to day autonomy and ultimately leading to a more fulfilling life. Her parents also have a new lease of life. They can more easily lead their own lives and support Mia’s siblings, nieces and nephews as well, and they have peace of mind that she will be OK if anything should happen to them.

Team leader for GLADS, Dawn McCall said “The biggest hurdle for Mia was confidence and anxiety. She’s an extremely shy person. Even going out for a coffee could be a big deal for her, taking her out of her comfort zone and having to communicate with a stranger at the counter. At first it was very hard for Mia to give any eye contact, but it’s great to see how she has developed over the years. She even got up to do karaoke recently, which is amazing progress.”

Preparing for the move

People dancing with and smiling at Guideposts group

The transition to moving into supported living is usually a gradual process. Finding the right place, getting to know your potential new housemates and support staff, and putting everything in place can take time. Often the person already has somewhere that they regularly stay away from home, to give their family carers some respite. But it’s not independent, they don’t cook their own food, or have to manage their own housework.

Dawn explained “A person also needs to be ready in themselves to live more independently. When we know someone is making plans, we start exploring what they might need. We chat about how they feel about it, and about their friends or other members of the service who have done the same. We talk in general terms about moving into your own home, becoming an adult; and as the time approaches we give specific training on how to manage things like washing, cleaning, and shopping.

In Mia’s case she was able to take part in some of our trips away, like the trip to Butlins last September, which was a great way to increase her independence and confidence. While we were away I talked to Mia about how the experience might be similar to supported living. She was very excited about it.”

Helping to smooth the transition to independence

Smiling young woman with her hand straight up to answer a quiz question

Mia’s Mum said “The work from Guideposts has helped the process enormously.  If Mia is unsure about something, I ask her what Guideposts had taught her and she then finds the confidence and knows what to do. Without the work from Guideposts Mia wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

In the last few years we have seen two other members of GLADS make the move, and they are doing well in their new homes. We give regular calls after the move to help with the transition, and it’s great to hear how they are getting on. Each of them had very different needs, and varying mixtures of concern and excitement for the big change. The one common element is that families almost always say they should have done it much earlier.

Another member of the service is currently making plans to move out of home. We look forward to seeing her make the leap and spread her wings too!

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