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Putting the heart into the home.

In this guest article we speak to Jackie Chappel, Director of Positive OT and Case Management, a dynamic independent Yorkshire-based company that works with those who have suffered catastrophic neurological and poly-trauma injury because of personal injury or medical negligence. She explains how, when working with clients to help them achieve their lifetime home, it’s not just the bricks and mortar that matter. 

“For children who have complex care needs, housing and their living environment is incredibly important as it’s the foundations on which everything else sits” begins Jackie. “Over the years I’ve learnt that it’s time well spent to carefully listen to clients, their families and supporting medical professionals to get it exactly right. And it isn’t always easy!

Jackie is acutely aware of the fact that when she’s working with families whose child has complex care needs, it’s critical to get not only the right house, but also in the right location if it’s going to succeed as the lifetime home. 

The care needs of children evolve and change over time, therefore planning ahead for these changes is important. However, I also know, that from mum and dad’s perspective, being close to a support network of family and friends in the early period of their child’s life is just as important as good inclusive design.” 

The size of the property required to facilitate the care needs of a person with complex care needs is not found in your average family home. Invariably, this means moving to a new house and undertaking significant adaptations and extensions to make the property suitable for individual client needs.  

Moving to a new house for any of us is incredibly stressful, but for families who are also coming to terms with what has happened to them as the result of medical negligence, it brings additional psychological factors. 

Even though the new home will make a huge difference to their quality of life, the fact that they are making this move from an often much-loved family home and neighbourhood, can trigger feelings of anger and resentment. Working with families to process these emotions can be difficult, but I try to focus on the increased independence and control that their new home will bring to them. It’s the planning part that I particularly love, helping clients to see how - with the right space, inclusive design, and specialist equipment - their lives can be transformed.” 

Jackie often spends years working with children whilst they continue to live in the original family homes. Terraced housing, where a front room doubles up as a child’s bedroom, and where access inside and outside the property is more or less impossible. 

There is a big piece of work to be done around where, geographically, a family wants to be. This is because to buy a house or plot big enough can often mean moving away from a well-established support network” explains Jackie. “I always have lots of conversations with families about this right from the outset as there have been occasions when families have moved to a completely different area and they’ve hated it. The house has been amazing, but the fact that they don’t have a much-needed support network close by has meant it just hasn’t worked.” 

Inevitably the narrower the search area, the more difficult and lengthier the house hunt can be. “I do roll my sleeves up and get involved in the search process itself. I’ll chat with local estate agents to explain what we’re looking for, and I make regular use of the property alert function on the Right Move App!” 

And how has Covid affected your way of working? 

“In terms of property searching during lockdown, this has proved to be very difficult. Not just because in-person property viewings have been prohibited, but because of the lack of availability of suitable properties due to the fast-paced market. 

Being unable to visit clients, certainly early on in the pandemic, has also been tough. Whilst some aspects of our role, such as managing multi-disciplinary team meetings has worked well over Zoom, the lack of face-to-face client meetings has impacted on how well we connect with clients. In person visits enable us to pick up on subtle things that may require our input, and when we visit clients in person, we tend to naturally spend longer with them which reinforces our professional bond and ensures that clients feel expertly cared for and supported. Looking after children with complex care needs requires great communication, problem solving and management skills. Being back out in the community with clients is just brilliant!” 

What’s next for Positive OT and Case Management? 

“Case Management Companies must now be registered with the CQC, and we are working towards our accreditation. Whilst this is a challenge for a small company like ours, the fact that we’ve always managed our care team in line with best practice, means we will meet the standards required. But as most people will be aware, the application process can be arduous. 

We hope that this accreditation will help to propel the company forward and support us with forging links with new injury lawyers, Deputies and others working in this sector.”


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