Certitude supporting more people across three London boroughs

Certitude supporting more people across three London boroughs

Supporting people living in Camden

On Thursday 1 October, we began supporting people who have learning disabilities and/or autism living in the south of the London Borough of Camden. This includes providing accommodation-based support that enables adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to have a home close to family and live as independently as possible.

Our support will mean that these people can continue to live the lives they want. We’re looking forward to getting to know them and their families over the coming weeks and months.

Residents move into new Ham housing development

The first tenants will be moving into a new supported-living housing development for young adults with a learning disability and/or autism in Ham in the next few days.

We’ve been working with Richmond Council and PA Housing to deliver this innovative and exciting new housing development, which incorporates assistive technology to allow young people to live their lives with greater independence. The new development is made up of three one-bedroom flats (plus carer accommodation) in a small two-storey block, plus a two-bedroom bungalow that includes a carer bedroom.

Gianluca Zucchelli, our Head of Service, said:

“Our specialised team will be offering personalised support using assistive tech and cutting-edge support methods. Being partners of this project since design stage means we have created an environment that incorporates our expertise of supporting people to flourish and become more independent.”

You can read more about the Ham development here.

Supporting more people in Hillingdon

As of 1 October, we are delighted to be supporting up to 45 people across six properties in Hillingdon. Most people are living in their own one-bedroom flats and will continue to be supported by experienced staff who have developed positive relationships with individuals and their families. We aim to build on this support and welcome everyone – tenants, families and staff, into Certitude. 

Melissa Layton, Head of Service, and Ziki Gwatiringe, Area Manager, are leading on the new contract. Mary Schumm, Director of Learning Disabilities, said: 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to broaden our reach in Hillingdon and enable more people to benefit from the skills and expertise we have to offer at Certitude, supporting people to live great lives. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, including their support teams, and wish them a very warm welcome to Certitude.”

This star fundraiser just walked the London Marathon in the rain

This star fundraiser just walked the London Marathon in the rain

Over the weekend, Kate completed the London Marathon in what was a very different and wet kind of event this year. Kate works with young adults with additional educational needs, and so is especially passionate about the work we do supporting people with learning disabilities and autism throughout London. 
Here she speaks about her experience of completing the marathon with her friends over one very rainy Sunday:
On a very grey and wet morning on Sunday 4th October I set off from the Thames Barrier to begin my Virtual London Marathon for Certitude London. I was joined by five friends, some completing it for other charities and some just for the experience. 
At points it was more of an obstacle course to avoid puddles but it added to the experience!
The rain stayed with us for the entire day but it didn’t dampen our spirits: we laughed the entire way around and knowing that I was supporting Certitude kept me motivated and moving.
By the time we finished the sun had set on a very wet London skyline but We Did It!! And to give you all a giggle – I didn’t realise until I saw the photos afterwards that I had walked around London resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street! And now I’m looking forward to running the London Marathon for Certitude in October 2021. 
Thank you to everyone who has donated to my fundraising efforts – I really appreciate it!
Thank you so much to Kate for undertaking this massive challenge! If you would like to show Kate some support, please head over to her JustGiving page here. 
Every penny raised will go back into the work we do supporting people in London with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs to live the lives they want!

Kate Nicklin is our London Marathon runner!

Kate Nicklin is our London Marathon runner!

Kate is a teacher at a school in Lewisham for children with additional educational needs. She’s passionate about people getting consistent support throughout their lives. Kate tells us about her marathon efforts:

“On Sunday 4 October 2020 I was due to be running the postponed London Marathon on behalf of Certitude London. However, due to COVID-19 it isn’t to be; the organisers have made the hard decision to postpone the marathon until October 2021. I will be running it in 2021 for Certitude but in the meantime want to continue to try and fundraise as charities rely on event such as this and have missed out on so much this year. 

“So, on Sunday 4 October 2020 I will be completing the London Marathon virtually, albeit walking the distance! I will be setting off at 8.30am from the Thames Barrier, walking the Thames Path as much as possible to Lambeth Bridge, crossing the river and returning down the other side completing the distance at the O2. You can find out more about how this year’s ‘virtual’ marathon is working here.

“I teach young people and teenagers with Special Educational Needs so the work Certitude does is close to my heart and I really want to promote what they do in supporting people and their families in London.

“I will be taking plenty of photos along the route and will share them with you all after the event.

“If you can support my fundraising efforts in any way possible I would greatly appreciate it! You can contribute through my JustGiving page.”

See you at the finish line!

Certitude to start supporting people living in Camden

Certitude to start supporting people living in Camden

Certitude is delighted to shortly begin supporting people who have learning disabilities and/or autism living in the London Borough of Camden. 
From 1st October, we will be supporting people living in the south of the borough and are looking forward to getting to know them and their families over the coming weeks and months. 
This includes providing accommodation-based support that enables adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to have a home close to family and live as independently as possible. 
Mary Schumm, Certitude’s Director of Learning Disability Services says, “We are excited to be supporting people living in Camden to continue living the lives they want. We have started working alongside other partners and providers in the borough to ensure that together we are able to provide the best possible support to people.” 
Cllr Pat Callaghan, Cabinet Member for a Healthy and Caring Camden said: “This new partnership with Certitude will help us build on our work to support people with learning disabilities whilst enabling them to live as independently as possible. We’re delighted to be working with them on this support offer which I’m certain will shape the lives of many of our residents.”

Sexual Health Week

Sexual Health Week

This week (14-20 September) is Sexual Health Week and this year’s theme is relationships and sex education; two very important topics for the wellbeing of people we support. 

As Mary Schumm tells us:

“We know through our own lives and through our work supporting people that relationships are one of the single most important things that matter – both intimate relationships and friendships with others. Those relationships matter to all of us, regardless of our background, disabilities, faith, sexual orientation and the wider rich diversity of how we can live our lives and what we believe in. 
Love literally is a basic human right – the Human Rights Act protects everyone’s rights to a ‘private life’ (including respect for one’s sexuality) and ‘family life’ which means all types of close, stable relationships including familial ones and romantic ones. This means that working to support people with building positive healthy relationships is not only the right thing to do, it is also the legal thing to do!
Sexual health and sex education is one important way we can meaningfully work with people to start building skills, confidence and knowledge around positive intimate relationships. Many people we support with learning disabilities have not had the chance to even learn the right terms and phrases for many parts of their body – let alone their intimate areas, nor the chance to learn about sexual acts, or what consent means. This can increase a person’s vulnerability to abuse and poorly informed decision making. 
Some women we support, particularly in our mental health services, may be working as sex workers or involved in complex intimate relationships with others and sexual health is of paramount importance to helping them maintain as healthy a life as possible. Sex education and sexual health support can form a crucial foundation for good risk management work. 
Last year, we developed a new Sex and Intimate Relationships policy which set out our values and principles for this area of work. We will be reviewing it within the next year to make sure it provides the clarity everyone needs to feel safe and work positively.”

A Carnival that brings our city to life

A Carnival that brings our city to life

Notting Hill Carnival is London’s biggest street party, with costumed dancers, performers and music that brings the city to life in a colourful celebration of West Indian culture.

It is a weekend to be proud of the diversity and culture of London, the very thing that makes our capital city the amazing and vibrant place that it is. Attracting more than 2.5 million people, Carnival is a place to celebrate unity and resilience.

Since 1966, Carnival hasn’t missed a year or a beat, but traditional Notting Hill festivities will be taking place online for 2020. 

Wanting to find out more about how special this event is, we spoke to Vanessa Chase, a support worker at Railton Road, and her father, Louis Chase, who was Chairman of the Notting Hill Carnival and Arts committee in the 1970s.

Working and dancing at Carnival

Like many, Vanessa has a special place in her heart for Notting Hill Carnival and everything the unique street festival celebrates and stands for.
 

“I have always loved attending Notting Hill Carnival – with my father when I was younger and with my friends in recent years. We would follow the floats in the parade, I would be dancing and singing to calypso and soca music all day.”

“The vibe of Carnival is energetic, lively, dynamic, with a beautiful mixture of colours, from costumes to people.”

More than just attending the day as a festival goer, Vanessa wanted to work at the carnival making sure everyone enjoyed the day as much as she did. 

“For the past four years, I have been a vendor at the carnival, selling whistles, flags and horns, whilst dancing and enjoying the vibes.”

 

Leading the parade

 But Vanessa isn’t the only one in her family that spoke highly of the festival, with her father, Louis Chase having worked closely with Carnival in the past.
 

“I have always loved attending Notting Hill Carnival – with my father when I was younger and with my friends in recent years. We would follow the floats in the parade, I would be dancing and singing to calypso and soca music all day.”

“The vibe of Carnival is energetic, lively, dynamic, with a beautiful mixture of colours, from costumes to people.”

More than just attending the day as a festival goer, Vanessa wanted to work at the carnival making sure everyone enjoyed the day as much as she did. 

“For the past four years, I have been a vendor at the carnival, selling whistles, flags and horns, whilst dancing and enjoying the vibes.”

Vanessa Chase and her friend at Notting Hill Carnival.
Louis Chase, in the early days of the Notting Hill Carnival back in 1970.

“The people of the Caribbean region wear creative, exotic and colourfully designed costumes, dancing to the drum music of the Caribbean region. The parade route is a little over three miles, winding through familiar streets; Westbourne Park Road and culminating at Ladbroke Grove.”

“The drumming from the steel pan, uniquely from Trinidad, and reggae rhythms of Jamaica will be heard on the streets of North Kensington throughout Carnival.”

“Given the circumstances of COVID-19, this day is left to memories of past events. But the carnival’s significance cannot be erased, as Black people in the diaspora still celebrate a sense of freedom during turbulent times.”

Vanessa said her father’s work and efforts to have been part of the movement to make Notting Hill Carnival what it is today is something to admire. 

 

Vanessa and her father, Louis.

“I am very proud of my father for all of his achievements in his life and for him to be a part of a team that has brought so many different nationalities and cultures together for this weekend every year. The work he has done – and the work that many continue to do – unifies us.”

Notting Hill Carnival live-streamed

This year, the carnival will be celebrated a little differently. The Notting Hill Carnival website will be live-streaming music and dancing all day via the Lets Go Do website

Vanessa said she will definitely be joining in the online celebrations this year. 

The four channels of the virtual event – which cover culture, parade, sound systems and the main stage – are available to stream on LetsGoDo.com from Saturday through until Monday.

We hope you have time to tune in and celebrate. 

How we’re making Certitude COVID-19 secure

How we’re making Certitude COVID-19 secure

Aisling Duffy, Certitude’s CEO, has written a statement on how we’re making Certitude COVID-19 secure: 

 

As an organisation, we have put in place new risk management procedures to protect people we support, family members and colleagues in response to COVID-19.

 

We have collaborated with people we support, family members, colleagues and commissioners to seek solutions together and put the most robust procedures in place. This has enabled us to embed a dynamic and live risk assessment process that captures the needs of everyone.

 

We continue to take the most appropriate measures to minimise the spread of infection whilst recognising that we sadly cannot eliminate the risk of COVID-19 entirely.

 

Please read through our COVID-19 Risk Management Statement to understand the measures in place. It describes the organisational and local risk management measures that help us prevent, mitigate and respond to risks and reduce the spread of infection. 

 

It will be reviewed as circumstances and needs change and develop in the future. 

 

People with learning disabilities are dying 25 years younger than the general population

People with learning disabilities are dying 25 years younger than the general population

In this blog, Mary Schumm, Certitude’s Director of Learning Disabilities, reflects on the shocking things she has learnt from the recent Learning Disability Mortality Review report and how we can do better moving forward.

Fact: people with learning disabilities face poorer health outcomes and shorter lifespans than the general population.
The Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDer) programme was set up to look at the causes of death for people with learning disabilities. It looks at how we can change services locally and nationally to reduce health inequalities. By finding out more about why people die we can understand what needs to change to make a different in people’s lives. 
The fourth and latest LeDeR report has just been published and makes for stark reading. The latest report told me a number of things I already knew, and some that I didn’t.
Shocking factors
I did know that on average people with learning disabilities die around 25 years younger than the general population (22 years younger for males, 27 years younger for females). Or read another way – 85% of the general population in the UK make it to 65 and over compared to only 37% of people with a learning disability. 
I also knew that people with a learning disability from BAME groups die at disproportionately younger ages than white British people. I didn’t know the actual statistics: of those who died in childhood (ages 4-17 years), 43% were from BAME groups. This is a shocking statistic.
Treatable health conditions
I knew that people with learning disabilities were more likely to die from treatable health conditions than the general population. But the actual statistics? A third (34%) of deaths of people with learning disabilities in 2019/2020 were from treatable medical causes, compared to 8% in the general population – a four-fold difference. Again, this is shocking. 
I did know that one of the most common causes of death in people with a learning disability is pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia. I didn’t know that tooth decay caused by poor oral care is associated with pneumonia. This is due to increased levels of oral bacteria in the saliva. Tooth decay is a treatable condition. The risk can be minimised in the first place with good oral care. 
I did know a little bit about sepsis. Sepsis is something called septicaemia or blood poisoning. It is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs. In 2018, sepsis was identified as the second leading cause of death (of those reviewed as part of the LeDeR programme) for people with learning disabilities. Very sadly, I also know of several people we have supported over the last few years who have died after having sepsis.

What we can do to address these stark inequalities

At Certitude, we take the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities who we support very seriously. We recognise that we play a vital role in ensuring that people with learning disabilities receive the same standard of health care as everybody else. It is our responsibility to learn about the health conditions people have or may be prone to so we can ensure the best health outcomes for them.  
We must advocate strongly, ask questions, have open dialogues and work in partnership with health professionals. But we must also challenge decisions we don’t feel are right and have the confidence to seek second opinions. 
We are developing a health and wellbeing policy that sets out how to support people to have the best health outcomes. We are re-establishing our Health Group to include people with learning disabilities and family members. The Health Group will generate ideas to support people to improve their health and wellbeing. It will also review the actions we are taking on this and hold us to account. 
We need to do everything we can to turn the tide on the terrible findings set out in the LeDer report so we can support people with learning disabilities to lead healthier, happier and longer lives. NHS England has released an Action from Learning report that we will be referencing to make sure we learn from these new findings.
 
To be the first to hear news and stories from around Certitude, sign up here.

A testing time for learning disabilities service

A testing time for learning disabilities service

After months in lockdown Melissa Layton, our Learning Disabilities Head of Service, reflects on her COVID-19 experience and her hopes – and fears – for the future.

At the beginning of this pandemic – which feels like a long time ago – it all felt very, very scary. It was certainly, the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced working in social care. Early on, there was a lot of illness and suspected illness; at one stage over half the staff in teams I am responsible for were off self-isolating or sick.
We were scared for people we support, many of whom have multiple additional health conditions – and staff were understandably frightened for themselves. It was a daunting time for everyone. At one point we had a member of staff and a person they support both seriously ill in hospital at the same time. Like everyone else we experienced a sense of panic, but we worked through it and kept going.

Response to the pandemic
When I look back on those first few weeks it feels good to know that we did the right things as an organisation. We locked down quickly, we set up an internal COVID-19 hub, we developed a frequently asked questions document for staff and families, and we implemented procedures quickly. We made sure we were always well stocked with personal protective equipment (PPE) so, fortunately, that wasn’t a problem.
However, we have been – and continue to be – very frustrated by the lack of access to adequate testing. 
Testing has been a problem across health and social care services from the beginning of the pandemic and although it is largely resolved for NHS staff, that is not the case for social care. 
People with learning disabilities are only eligible for testing if they live in a ‘registered care home’, not if they are in ‘supported living.’ Supported living is the way we support the majority of people – they and their staff teams’ need for testing is no less important or necessary based on the support descriptor. 
While walk-in testing centres have begun opening which our staff can access, for people we support this would be an extremely stressful situation and they should be able to be tested at home to minimise distress. 

Issues with test kits 
In the last few weeks we have been sent some test kits for people living in registered care but this presents its own challenges. 
The only training we have been able to access is online and some of the kits have arrived with no instructions and no details of where to send them once they’re complete. Tests need to be carried out by properly trained staff to avoid false negatives and any additional distress to people. Over the past few weeks I’ve spent many hours on the phone to local authorities, Public Health England and our local Hounslow MP, Ruth Cadbury, trying to get more information. 
Right now, the situation is calmer. Both staff and the people we support are well and beginning to enjoy seeing family and friends again, but the prospect of a second wave is worrying. We never want to find ourselves facing a situation like we did in March and early April – we need clear guidance from Public Health England.
 

The Mayor of Hounslow visit

The Mayor of Hounslow visit

The Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Tony Louki, visited one of our respite services last week.

During the socially distanced visit, the Mayor gave the residents a geranium as part of his ‘Gift a Geranium’ initiative and said he was delighted to come out and meet people, including Short Breaks manager, Juan, and Julie who is currently staying there. 

The ‘Gift a Geranium’ campaign aims to acknowledge the hard work people working in social care have been doing across the borough over the last few months. Hounslow residents are being encouraged to leave a geranium on doorsteps to show their appreciation.

One of Certitude’s Heads of Service, Melissa Layton, met with Mayor during his visit and said:

“It was lovely having the Mayor of Hounslow visit one of our houses today. His visit provided a welcome pick-me-up during this time and everyone here is looking forward to planting out their special geranium!”

And due to a small mistake, the Mayor also paid an unexpected visit to 49a Star Road the day before, where he received an impromptu welcome from Wayne and a song from Lavinia!