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Thomas loves nothing better than lots of noise and the rough and tumble of life. He loves to play the drums in his music sessions and has a great sense of humour, finding it funny if someone trips up or drops something! He likes spending time with people who are a bit cheeky and like to have fun.

Life is particularly challenging for Thomas - being non-verbal with an extensive list of conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Scoliosis and needing overnight oxygen, means that Thomas needs full-time care. Since leaving school and transitioning to our young adult residential services, Futures, Thomas has now started living in Orchard Bungalow with other young adults.

Kelly, who supports Thomas, says that he has settled in well to his new home and gets on well with Callum and Aran who work in Orchard bungalow. “Thomas gets bored easily so providing stimulation and interesting activities is really important which is why the LSC (Leisure and Skills Centre), and Hub are great - there’s so much to do and everything is on one site, so Thomas can access it easily.”

Transitioning to Futures

Since transitioning to Futures Thomas loves to go swimming, participate in games at the Dream Centre, (particularly wheelchair football as he’s very competitive!), and use the immersive space with all the sights, sounds and experiences it offers.

Thomas’s Mum, Gill, remembers that when Thomas first came to school at Chailey Heritage Foundation, she felt incredibly reassured by the support he received. “We could see that Thomas was really happy after just a couple of weeks, the difference was so noticeable - things like his support team anticipating his needs, moving him before he became uncomfortable and upset, rather than reacting to his needs once he was upset, which had happened in the past.”

Gill says that the high level of support Thomas receives has been maintained throughout his time at Chailey Heritage, with his support team helping the family through challenges such as the pandemic and Thomas’s many health issues, including recent trips to hospital. “We have had some bad health scares in the last couple of years. Without any doubt Chailey has supported us through some of the worst of these. We have a great parent and support worker relationship.”

A Seamless Service

This ongoing trust and reassurance translated to the family’s recent experience when Thomas transitioned into adult services and accommodation. “The handing over has been seamless. We have been helped through the bumpy bits such as the amount of paperwork, and extras such as Thomas having the same night team and one-to-one support have made all the difference.”

Gill describes how his new home in Orchard bungalow has a ‘grown up’ atmosphere, with more of a student vibe than his previous home. “They treat him like an adult, he has even got his own bank card! It’s no longer Mum choosing for him, he’s encouraged to be as independent as possible like any other young adult.”

He also enjoys the social trips Futures has to offer. He recently visited Brighton Marina with his friends to go bowling, and he loves to pop to the shops with Kelly to have a coffee and people watch.

Kelly explains that with scoliosis, it’s important to get Thomas out of his wheelchair every hour and a half, so that he can stretch out on the floor over his wedge, which he enjoys as he likes to lift his head up and see what’s going on around him. Kelly says, “Although Thomas is non-verbal, he always lets us know if he is uncomfortable as he is very vocal. We also know when he’s happy, as he’ll give a big smile, so we rely on reading his facial expressions and body language to anticipate how he’s feeling.” 

Thomas has transitioned seamlessly from school to adult services at Chailey Heritage Foundation, and his support team and family are incredibly proud of all he has achieved.

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