Increasing Independent Living Skills at Heathcotes New Mills

9th Sep 2015

Amy success story

Amy* has a Learning Disability and is a service user at Heathcotes New Mills, Derbyshire.

When Amy moved in to Heathcotes New Mills she had very little confidence and was very fearful. She was reluctant to access the community and she was unable to carry out some activities of daily living for herself.  Staff at Heathcotes Phoenix recognised that Amy had a lot of capabilities but understood that she could not see these herself.

Staff worked with Amy to identify her hopes and goals and discovered that Amy wanted to be independent and wanted to work towards getting a work placement and move on to supported living accommodation. The team at Heathcotes New Mills identified staff with whom Amy had started to build rapport and ensured that these staff were available to Amy to help her in achieving her goal. The team started by supporting Amy to access the local area so she could familiarise herself with her surroundings. With staff support, she began to build relationships with staff in local shops that helped strengthen her knowledge of the area and develop her confidence in navigating the different areas of the town. Visits into the community were gradually increased before Amy felt confident enough to access the community independently.

Staff then supported Amy to utilise the public transport network. To begin with,  staff would accompany Amy on bus journeys before encouraging her to interact with the driver and pay for her own fare. As Amy’s confidence grew, staff began escorting Amy to the bus stop and waved her off on her bus journey before returning to the bus stop later that day to collect her. Staff discussed the timetables with Amy, helping her understand the process of identifying when the next bus was due to arrive and where she could get on and off. The final step was for Amy to walk to the bus stop on her own, board the bus and pay her fare independently and do the same on her return journey, which she did successfully.

Staff then supported Amy to identify a work placement. Amy wanted to work with the general public and identified a charity shop approximately two miles away from the service. Staff supported Amy to arrange the placement and she was able to use public transport to get to and from her placement every day where she works directly with the public, helping them to choose their purchases and sorting incoming stock. Her confidence has increased to such an extent that she now manages her own finances; some of which she used to apply for a passport which enabled her to take her first holiday abroad – something she has always wanted to do.

Amy has made a great deal of progress; she now accesses the community independently every day and is confident in using the public transport network. She travels to other local towns and enjoys the facilities they have to offer.  Amy has also volunteered at a recent Oxfam community music festival where she met many new friends with whom she is enjoying maintaining and developing friendships.

Rachel Gautier, Registered Manager at Heathcotes New Mills said, “Amy has done amazingly well since moving to Heathcotes New Mills and we feel very proud of the work we have done in supporting her to achieve so much. Her confidence and independent living skills have increased to such an extent that she is well on her way to achieving her goal of moving to a supported living placement.”

If you would like further information about Heathcotes New Mills, or any other Heathcotes service, please contact Caroline Mirams, Head of Business Development on 01246 556 453 or via email at

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