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  • Andrew Prepares for More Independence

    Andrew Independence1

    Andrew at Chesterholmehas been preparing for when he moves on from the Hexham service, towards more independent living. Chesterholme is an independent hospital for people with learning disabilities and complex needs. The staff team there have been helping him prepare for this time, supporting him to make his own choices and take part in the activities he enjoys.

    Andrew recently gave a presentation on the process of moving on at People’s Parliament, the North East region’s service user forum. These forums are run by service users, enabling people to have the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on the service, share concerns and make suggestions for activities or on ways to improve their daily lives. It is also a great way for people to share their experiences and help others that are going through the same things.

    Andrew Independence3

    His presentation was brilliant, explaining about everything he does, his hobbies, and the place where he works. He also told everyone how he was preparing for moving by making a list of the things he will need when he leaves Chesterholme and about going on a grand shopping expedition with his support staff to buy things for his new place.

    The staff team at Chesterholme are all working with Andrew to help support and prepare him for when he moves on. Andrew participates in a vast array of activities, all of which promote his independence, community access, and provide opportunities that empower Andrew to make appropriate choices and decisions.

    Andrew works at Greenbox, run by the Hextol Foundation, once a week, packing information leaflets into envelopes and taking them to the local post office. He enjoys the responsibility and work environment and has had brilliant feedback from the team at Greenbox.

    Andrew Independence4Minerva, a charity run arts centre supporting adults with learning disabilities, is another place Andrew enjoys going to each week. He loves getting stuck in with the wide range of creative projects available, such as silk painting, screen printing, pottery and furniture restoration. Through Minerva, Andrew has the opportunity to meet others while working in a friendly and supportive community-based environment.

    The team also support Andrew to learn life skills that will help him when he moves. He thoroughly enjoys shopping and cooking, working alongside staff to decide what they would like to make for their tea. He is central to the whole process, from checking the larder cupboard, to buying the ingredients, to preparing, cooking, and presenting, before they can finally enjoy the tasty meal they have created.

    Andrew now feels confident in his abilities and ready for the next step. When Andrew makes the move from Chesterholme, he hopes to continue to do all the things he currently likes doing, while enjoying greater independence.

    Click here to read more about Chesterholme in Hexham

  • Ranaich House Achieves 'HealthyLiving' Award!

    Healthy Living Award positive wideCongratulations to Ranaich House residential care home in Dunblane for achieving the 'HealthyLiving' Award!

    The award recognises those who strive to promote the principles of a healthy balanced diet, using healthier ingredients and preparation methods, and is fully supported by the Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland.

    The staff team and service users have been working hard towards this award for months, making changes in how the chef prepares meals, as well as educating staff and service users to ensure everyone was up for the challenge.

    The food at Ranaich House had previously not been as healthy as it could have been. The Manager and Chef got together to plan out how they could still offer tasty food choices, but without deep frying. They started using spray-lite to either bake or grill the food, and no one noticed the difference!

    As this was such a huge success, they decided that the deep fryer was no longer needed. Now they don’t have the opportunity to deep fry at all, and nobody has missed it. They have now received positive comments not only from service users, but also neighbours, who have commented that they could tell when dinner was being prepared because of the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.

    Healthy Living Collage

    This has been such a positive change for everyone involved. Now service users join staff on trips to the local fish market, butchers and fruit and veg shops. Everyone has enjoyed having tasting sessions to learn about the healthy choices they can make, and to try food they may not have had the opportunity to try before. Staff ensure service users are involved in meal preparation, and enjoy teaching them about the benefits of reducing sugar and fat in their diet.

    TaglineWell done to the whole team for working so hard and achieving this great award. This is a great achievement and a testament to how hard the staff have worked to improve the healthiness of the food at Ranaich House, and therefore the health and wellbeing of the service users they support. Congratulations!

    Click here to read more about Ranaich House in Dunblane

    Click here for more details on the HealthyLiving award

  • Cedar Vale Has Major Refurbishment

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    Cedar Vale hospital in East Bridgford, near Nottingham has been undergoing redevelopment over the last few months, and now the work is complete, we’d like to tell you about everything that’s been going on.

    Promoting an individual’s independence is very important at Cedar Vale. The aim of the refurbishment and reconfiguration was to further enable the service team to support people to develop independent living skills by creating three separate care pathways within the hospital.

    The hospital has been re-developed into a five bed, six bed and a three bed bespoke service, each aimed at giving individuals an environment that will support them for moving on to more independent living. People will be able to build on their self-care and daily living skills at the new skills kitchens, where they can plan and cook meals for themselves and their visitors.

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    New lounge and dining areas have been created to provide a personalised dining experience and more opportunities for service users to socialise. Service users are also now also benefitting from an upgraded and expanded sensory area.

    The management team developed a site plan for each phase of the work to ensure that the impact of the work on service users was as minimal as possible.


    Carole Guy, Service Manager at Cedar Vale, said: “Everything we do is aimed at enabling individuals to lead as independent and fulfilling lives as possible and a great deal of thought and planning has gone into the reconfiguration at Cedar Vale.

    “We all worked hard to ensure the fantastic refurbishment went smoothly and we
    are delighted to soon be sharing the new look of Cedar Vale with service users, their families, staff and commissioners.”

    Mel Ramsey has said of the new look, “We recognised that Cedar Vale needed refurbishment and re-development and took the opportunity to develop the service into three smaller pathways, enabling the people who use the service to develop their independent living skills. I have been to see the refurbished service and I am confident that we have created something very special for the people who use the service.”

    Click here to see more about Cedar Vale

  • Newbus Grange Raises Over £5000 for Charity

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    Service users and staff at Newbus Grange, one of our services near Darlington, have shown their charitable spirit and raised more than £5,000 for good causes during 2016.

    Hazel Southern, service manager at Newbus Grange, kick-started the fundraising when she bravely had her hair cut to donate to The Little Princess Trust, a charity that provides real hair wigs to children who have lost their own hair during cancer treatment. Colleagues supported her by making donations to support the charity’s work.

    Sarah Llewellyn, a support worker at Newbus Grange, was so moved by the story of Hartlepool youngster Bradley Lowery, who has touched the hearts of the nation with his cancer battle and ‘bucket list’ of wishes, including breaking the world record for the number of Christmas cards received, she organised a fundraiser for his appeal.

    Another great initiative saw staff at Newbus Grange, who were keen to help people who faced spending Christmas alone, donate the money they would have spent on Christmas cards for each other to Darlington Town Mission, a local charity aimed at enriching the lives of elderly people.

    While in the Christmas spirit, the team also collected gifts to pack into shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, run by the Samaritan’s Purse. You can see how full they were in the image above!

    Dogs Trust was another charity to benefit when staff members rallied together to raise funds to buy dog food for the Darlington shelter.

    Many other fundraising events took place throughout the year to enable the hospital to make a real difference to good causes across the region.

    Newbus Grange is an independent hospital providing specialist assessment and rehabilitation for men on the autistic spectrum with associated complex needs.

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    Hazel Southern, service manager at Newbus Grange said: “I’m very proud of the team here at Newbus Grange; they never let me down when it comes to supporting good causes and have some great ideas.

    We had everything from sponsored runs, raffles, a garden party and cake sales. We even had a dress down day for National Fish and Chip day, we basically used any excuse to fundraise!

    “There is a more serious side to it though and it is important that staff and service users are an integral part of the local community. This is a key part of that philosophy.”

    Click here to see more about Newbus Grange

  • Fighting Fit at Toller Road

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    Toller Road has been working on a new initiative to get service users more active and improve their overall wellbeing and fitness. This initiative has been led by Activity Co-ordinator, Penny Watson.

    They have been working with Adam Chambers, a fully qualified personal trainer and advanced instructor who owns Primal Fitness in Melton Mowbray. Adam has created individual sessions pitched at the right level and ability for the service users at Toller Road, with the emphasis on getting fit whilst having lots of fun.

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    Everyone looks forward to these weekly sessions and they are already beginning to see health benefits. The team at Toller Road are hoping to build upon this success by getting service users involved in local parkrun events. Cate Ball, Service Manager at Toller Road, regularly volunteers at the parkrun event in Melton Mowbray and some of the service users from Toller Road will be joining her on 17th December 2016. The team all recognise the importance of healthy living, and other initiatives are currently being worked upon.

    Well done to everyone at Toller Road for getting involved in such a fab fitness scheme! What a great start to build on!

    Click here to see more about Toller Road

  • Healthy Living at Ranaich House

    Ranaich House are in the process of applying for The Healthy Living Award. This award is given to Scottish organisations that are committed to ensuring that their catering facilities meet the following targets:

    • Keep the level of fat and oil to a minimum
    • Keep the level of salt in food to a minimum
    • Keep the level of sugar in food to a minimum
    • Make fruit and vegetables clearly available
    • Make starchy food the main part of most meals
    • Support healthier eating through promotion
    • Ensure at least 50% of the food meets the criteria

    It hasn’t always been this way; when Margaret (Service Manager) and Dawn (Chef) were appointed in 2015, they noticed that a lot of the food offered to service users had been deep fried. Margaret commented, “We worked together to plan out how we could still offer tasty foods but without deep frying. We started using Spray-Lite to either bake or grill instead of frying. As it happened, no one noticed the difference!

    “As this was such a huge success, we decided that the deep fat fryer was no longer needed and we got it taken away completely. Now we don’t have the opportunity to deep fry at all and no-one has missed it. In actual fact we receive positive comments not only from the service users, but recently a neighbour has commented that he could tell when dinner was being prepared because of the delicious smells coming from our kitchen…


    “When we heard about the Green Apple Awards/Healthy Living Awards, we thought that as we had already made a real start, let’s try and get formal recognition for it!”

    The people at Ranaich House are going to be making a trip to visit a local fish market, a butchers and their usual fruit and veg shop. They will then be holding a tasting session for staff and service users to try some new healthy food that they may not have had the opportunity to try before.

    In addition to this, the staff are creating games and competitions based on the healthy living topic, ensuring that service users are involved in meal preparation, comparing the amount of sugar that is in a selection of fizzy drinks and looking at the amount of fat that is in a selection of popular snack foods.

    Good luck to everyone with the award and we look forward to seeing pictures of your efforts.

    Click here to see more about Ranaich House

  • Whorlton Hall Learning for Life

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    In November a new letter writing course began at Whorlton Hall. The course is being run in conjunction with Darlington Borough Council’s Learning and Skills Service, Learning for Life. The course tutor, Grainne, has a great deal of experience in teaching life skills to people with learning disabilities and is looking forward to working with Danielle, David and Andrew over the length of the course.

    Andrew said, “I like this, I can write to Grandad.” David and Danielle are also going to write to family members. Danielle and Andrew have written letters in the past to family members, but this is something new for David, who is looking forward to writing to his brother. Everyone agreed that it’s nice to receive a proper letter from someone we care about.

    The course will be running for 5 weeks, following which they are starting a Christmas Crafts course, again with Learning for Life.

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    Interview Practice
    In November, Andrew and Christopher also took part in a mock interview to prepare for interviewing new staff. Andrew and Christopher were supported by Audrey and Caitlin, who helped them to choose and ask questions using the booklet ‘Recruiting Staff Support Workers’.

    To make the exercise ‘real’, they recruited Simon Bell from Governance to be the person being interviewed. Andrew and Christopher found this very worthwhile and look forward to carrying out interviews “for real” in the future.

    Click here to see more about Whorlton Hall

    Click here to read more about the Learning and Skills Service at Darlington Borough Council

  • Raymond Shows His Artistic Skill

    Raymond at Thors Park would like to show you his artistic talent, with a picture he painted that he is very proud of. He has a creative flair with a strong imagination, and is being supported to maintain and build on these skills using the variety of resources and seasonal opportunities available. Some of these he has particularly enjoyed were creating a picture of a witch for Halloween, and more recently some great paintings and a banner for Christmas.

    He has also created some wonderful seasonal pictures using paints, wood and textures, using all of the resources Thors Park has to offer. Below is a picture of Raymond with a painting he particularly enjoyed creating, which shows a garden scene with lots of birds and some amazingly intricate detail.

        03 Raymond Painting Oct 16

    Raymond moved to Thors Park in August 2016, and was asked about his experience of moving. We are happy to hear that since he has been there, “boredom has never come into it.”

    He is busy all the time and says he is “very happy at Thors Park.”

    He loves meeting new people and was really pleased to attend LD Today, the biggest learning disability conference, in London a few weeks ago to support our team exhibiting there. He was particularly pleased to see how many free pens were being given out, and stocked up his art materials supply considerably! Raymond enjoys getting involved in the regional forums, and has even stood up and presented there on behalf of Thors Park service users.

    We’re glad Raymond is happy at Thors Park and are looking forward to seeing more of his beautiful paintings.

    Click here to see more about Thors Park

  • Service Users’ Designs Adorn Danshell Christmas Card

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    One of our service users from a service in Bishop Auckland has proved his artistic merit by winning our company-wide Christmas art project.

    The Christmas card competition was launched to encourage service users to feel involved in the company and to produce a design for our corporate card for Christmas 2016.

    The winning design, chosen from more than 130 entries from across the UK, depicts a snowy scene featuring reindeer, a snowman and Father Christmas. The festive creation was designed by Shane, who lives in one of our North East services.

    The result was very close, with a gentleman at Bostall House in Abbey Wood London coming in 2nd place, and two people sharing 3rd place from Dundee and Darlington. Their designs will also be turned into our corporate Christmas cards, giving a choice of designs.

    Service users from across the country were invited to take part in the judging day. All the staff at our York Office also got involved in the judging process, including Mel Ramsey, our Chief Executive and Clynt Hall, our Finance Director. Everyone enjoyed themselves and got into the festive spirit enjoying the buffet, Christmas music and games.

        1st Place

    Mel said: “The voting day for our Christmas card competition was just incredible, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of cards we received. The Christmas card competition is a way of recognising the creative talents of the people we support, and it certainly did just that.

    “The standard of entries was exceptionally high and it was not easy to choose between the pieces of art work. However, Shane’s fantastic design received the most votes and everyone was absolutely delighted for him.

    We cannot forget to also congratulate our 2nd and joint 3rd entry winners, and indeed every one of the 130 cards we received. It really is starting to feel a lot like Christmas now.”

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  • Updates from Our South East Services

    Services in South East England recently held their regional forum at Wick Lodge in Clacton-on-Sea. Service users from across all sites in the South East presented to the members attending. One person was supported by a family member who attends the family forum. Advocates attended the event, along with Melinda Glover, Director of Operations for the South East region. Everyone was very pleased to see Melinda, and she was very supportive and encouraging. The forum went very well and a variety of ideas came about from it.

    Service users discussed activities they enjoy, as well as those they would like to do. Some of these have now started at the services interested:

    • Thors Park have started clay and woodwork sessions, which are going very well with lots of people taking part. Yew Treeshave been running clay sessions for a while and have been experimenting with a potter’s wheel. They have made some wonderful things and the ladies are so very proud of their work.
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    • Service users and staff continue to explore community resources. Access to the new private pool resource is going well for individuals at Thors Park. The pool is beautiful, as you can see, and allows up to 10 people to use it at any time. It is solely for the use of Thors Park during their session, so everyone feels safe and supported to use this valuable resource. Use of the pool is also being explored for Yew Trees, so hopefully it won’t be too long before the ladies are able to take a splash themselves. This would form a graded approach for some before stepping into a public pool.
    • Football with Healthy4Life at the local leisure centre on Thursdays continues on a weekly basis, which is going really well for our ladies at Ducks Haltand Yew Trees. The Rock It club in Thorpe is also a great community resource which ladies from both services frequently attend.

    Service users decided to have a Christmas party for the region, which will be held on December 8th. Everyone has been working hard to prepare for the party; all the service users are involved in coming up with party games to play, with all sites playing a part in the organising. Some of the activities planned so far are; pin the nose on Rudolph, a Treasure Hunt, a quiet corner for colouring, musical statues, a best Christmas hat competition and Christmas Pictionary.

    There will also be a DJ, a snow machine and a photobooth where people can take pictures with the snow machine and fun Christmas-themed props like hats, glasses and beards. They can then use these photos to make Christmas cards for their family that are truly personalised, original and creative. Service users and staff alike are looking forward to the party!

    Damien from The Orchards presented at the recent forum on what he has been enjoying recently, talking about how much he loves to cook. From this a Bake Off competition was set into action, with the judging taking place at the Christmas party. Good luck to everyone taking part!

    The regional forum also discussed their roles for each forum and how they can promote greater service user involvement. Everyone will have the opportunity to apply for a role at the next regional forum in March, with a vote taking place to democratically elect each position. Until that time, the roles will be conducted by service users at each service in a shared manner; Old Leigh House will be the organisers; Thors Park will be the Chair; Ducks Halt will arrange events and activities; Bostall House will be in charge of ‘Meet and Greet’; Yew Trees will take the minutes; and The Orchards will organise invites and publications.

  • Danshell Attends Learning Disability Today 2016

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    Danshell staff and service users attended Learning Disability Today 2016 at the end of last month, aiming to promote our services and meet likeminded people within the industry. It was also a great opportunity for service users to do something different, visit a new place and take part in some fun activities.

    Learning Disability Today is the country’s largest inclusive event for people with learning disabilities and hosted a range of activities, talks and seminars. The programme of the day focused on topics that are important to people with learning disabilities, their carers and the professionals who support them. Everyone from across the learning disability community was represented – commissioners, policy makers, charities, providers, family carers, support workers, and most importantly, people with learning disabilities. Attendees could also peruse the many stands with providers and charities that support people with learning disabilities to live full lives as independently as possible.

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    The hall was full of people all day and we were very grateful of the help provided by service users and staff at some of our South East services, who came and assisted on the Danshell stand. The ladies and gentlemen really enjoyed the day, particularly when they were talking to people as they stood at the stand. A gentlemen from one of our services in Essex attended some of the talks and found them interesting. As an avid artist, he also took a particular liking to the free pens that were being handed out!

    Another young man had fun chatting to everyone and particularly liked the chocolates being handed out at most of the stands. He also took part in an activity at a stand where they were lobbying the government to make changes. Helped by Suzy Wood, Occupational Therapist in the South East, he wrote a card with suggestions, and hung it on a tree set up to collect the ideas.

    Suzy said of the day, “I really enjoyed the day, especially spending time with the service users, having our photos taken and meeting other providers.”

    Thank you to our service users and staff that came and helped out on the stand. We’re glad you had a good time!

  • Update from Bostall House

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    Bostall House has been busy over the last few months! In October they celebrated Denis’ birthday with a party, which his family all came to. Staff decorated the dining room with birthday banners and bunting. The chef cooked a delicious spread and Denis had a black forest gateaux for his birthday cake. Denis was overwhelmed with the celebrations and thanked everyone. Robert also gave a wonderful speech, which he had been practicing throughout the morning. Everyone agreed it was a great celebration, and they all enjoyed tucking into the party food and helping Denis have a very happy birthday!

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    After Denis’ party, Bostall House continued to celebrate with a Halloween Party. The activities room was decorated in spider webs, bunting and scary signs. Everyone joined in with a treasure hunt throughout the house and garden. The best costume prize was presented to Robert, who came dressed as a spooky skeleton in a suit. Well done Robert!

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    Joseph has been practicing for the ‘Bake Off’ competition. He made some tasty fairy cakes, which he decorated by piping on chocolate butter icing. Joseph was very careful and meticulous, and has said he enjoyed the baking.

    Recently Bostall House has been taking part in the Christmas card competition, having fun with the stickers, stencils and other stationery on offer in the activity room. Everyone had good ideas and were eager to show their enthusiasm. They are looking forward to finding out who the winner will be!

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    There have been lots of other activities at Bostall House over the last month, including; service users coming up with lots of new recipes for delicious, nutritious meals; everyone helping to replant the front garden with winter flowers to add colour during the colder months; Ryan and Rayne have completed their Tree of Life projects, creating beautiful artworks to tell people who they are and what is important to them.

    Click here to see more about Bostall House

  • Spooky Halloween Fun Across the Country

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    Services across the country have had a fun Halloween, holding parties with spooky crafts and tasty cakes!

    Our North East services held a Halloween party at ASE club in Darlington. Everyone got involved and into the spooky spirit, dressing up and bringing party food. They held a 'best dressed' competition, which was won by Catherine (left), a lady from one of our North East services, who had a brilliant pirate costume.

    Johnathan Whitwell, Danshell's Sports Coordinator in the North East, said, "Everyone looked great! It was difficult to pick the winner but Catherine made a fantastic pirate and a brilliant effort. Everyone appeared to enjoy the afternoon, with the disco and food."

    NE Halloween 2016


        Hollyhurst Halloween 2016 2

    Hollyhurst also held their own Halloween party, with fun activities including carving pumpkins. Staff had arranged for Zoo Lab to come and bring their creepy crawlies, which really fitted in with the theme of the day. Lee, Hollyhurst DJ, put a spectacular disco on in the evening for Halloween. It was extra special as it was his 45th birthday too. Happy Birthday Lee, looks like you had everyone partying!

    Hollyhurst Halloween 2016



    Willow House held their own party, with amazing costumes and fab face paint! Everyone joined in the fun decorating the house and having fun with party games.


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    The ladies at Ducks Halt have also been having fun this Halloween with Chantel, the Activity Coordinator! They have been shopping for decorations, and got creative decorating all of Ducks Halt. There have been specific Halloween arts and crafts sessions, where they have created some beautiful pictures to put on the walls. You can see their Halloween themed paintings below. They have also been baking some delicious spooky cakes whilst listening to Halloween music.

    The ladies went and picked their own pumpkins and carved them together on Halloween evening. They then had a face-painting session and got all dressed up before heading out to a party at the Rock it Club, dancing all night and enjoying a spooky-themed buffet.

    Service users at Whorlton Hall also got into the swing of things with a Halloween themed buffet and music at their party on Monday. Christopher said, “It was great, love parties.” Danielle loved the party and is looking forward to another one at Christmas, saying “This time all the staff can get dressed up as well!” When Claire was asked if she enjoyed the party, the answer was a resounding “Yeeeeaaahhh!”

    Whorlton Hall Halloween 2016 Collage

    Thank you to everyone who sent through these fab pictures – we’ve loved seeing them and hope you do too!

  • Fantastic Family Evening at Toller Road

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    On the 19th October, Old Earl Redston Hall opened its doors for the first time for service to a selected guest list.

    The team at Toller Road were looking for ways to engage further with family members. During his appraisal, Guy Churchill, Chef at Toller Road, came up with the idea of transforming the dining room in the service into a fabulous restaurant.

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    So the whole team set about making this happen, devising a menu, inviting family members, transforming the dining area with flowers, candles, low lighting and soft music, and they even gave the restaurant its own name, Old Earl Redston Hall, which is an anagram of Danshell Toller Road!

    Families were invited to join the staff and service users for a welcome drink at 6pm with dinner being served at 6.30pm.  There was a delicious three course meal plus cheese and biscuits served.  Guy and Kitchen Assistant Zoe worked extremely hard to deliver this fine cuisine.

    The evening went without a hitch and all the guests went away extremely happy, with some of the family members being given the flower table arrangements to take home with them.

    Positive comments have been received from a number of people including Marie Greenberry, our Director of Nursing and Governance who was able to attend the evening.

    She commented,

    “It was a great evening for all who attended; Cate and her team really did a fantastic job. They are a credit to Danshell.”

    Mr and Mrs Reid, whose son lives at Toller Road, sent a message to Cate, the Manager, saying,

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    “Just the most amazing evening. Congratulations to all the staff and residents for making it a magical evening.  The food that Guy produced was fab, in particular he was able to get around my dietary restrictions and come up with a really tasty meal.

    As the Manager at Toller Road, you are clearly making a difference to the shared experiences of residents and their families.  Your ability to come up with and take on board other people’s ideas has certainly outshone our memories of previous managers’ performances.

    P.S  Bring on the 2017 Sunday carvery . . . !!!”

    Well done to Cate, Guy and the whole team at Toller Road.

    Old Earl Collage

  • Whorlton Hall’s Activity Hub is Now Open!

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    Whorlton Hall’s Activity Coordinators, Jamie Oliver and Audrey Jones, have been hard at work creating a brand new ‘Activity Hub’ that had its grand opening at the end of August.

    Whorlton Hall is our independent hospital in the North East, located in a picturesque village near to Barnard Castle, County Durham. The team at Whorlton Hall supports individuals living with a learning disability and ensure they live full and active lives.

    There was much excitement from both service users and staff with the announcement of the new Activity Hub and a full schedule was planned for its first week in action.

    Service users now have the opportunity to get involved in even more activities, from morning to evening, which has gone down very well. There are various groups that service users can take part in, such as morning drinks and chat over the daily papers, IT sessions to boost computer skills, and technical projects. They have also planned some fun evening events, with a bingo night and photography night already held in the opening week.




    Audrey Jones, one of Whorlton’s Activity Coordinators, said, “We are proud that all service users are supported to create their own personal weekly activity programme. We work hard with service users, their families and those closest to them to find out what is important to them and what their hopes and dreams for the future are. These plans from service users at Whorlton Hall determine which activities will be put on for the week in the Activity Hub.” This is part of our commitment to use every opportunity we can to act on the views of those we support and those who know and care about them best.

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    Jamie Oliver, Whorlton’s second Activity Coordinator, said, “An indoor activities centre is a great way to keep up the amount of activities service users can participate in as we head towards the cooler, wetter months.”

    You can see from their smiles how much the new centre for activities is enjoyed by all the service users – it’s lovely to see everyone so involved and having fun! Thank you to Audrey, Jamie and all the staff at Whorlton Hall for all your hard work. We’re glad the first few weeks have been such a great success and hope the Activity Hub will continue to be enjoyed by all.

  • Sporting Fun Day

    It’s that time of year again when Ducks Halt and Yew Trees come together to organise their yearly fun day. Chantel Cumberland, Activity Coordinator at Ducks Halt, came up with the fantastic idea to create a Hawaiian-themed day, and set about planning for the big event. Chantel ensured service users at both services were involved in the preparation as much as possible by asking a service user to help with creating invites, as well as organising a group outing to buy all of the decorations, games, drinks and costumes.

    The fun day was a great success, attended by service users, family and friends, as well as staff members. Every guest was given a Hawaiian flower garland on arrival and costumes were available to dress up in. It was great to see everyone making an effort to join in and create a fun tropical atmosphere. Luckily enough, the weather matched the theme, with warm temperatures and sunny skies.

    Chantel had organised some great entertainment for the day, including a DJ who dressed up as Tony the Tiger and made balloon models for everyone. Service users, friends and family, and staff all enjoyed taking part in the games of hula hooping, wet sponge throwing, and limbo, and everyone loved the bouncy castle, bubbles and water slide. To encourage fair play and make sure everyone got a turn, each service user was given token to use at each game.

    The DJ was a big hit, with Chantel commenting, “Everyone was up dancing and enjoying the party atmosphere. It was great to see all service users, family members and staff so enthusiastic and dancing to party anthems such as the YMCA and the Macarena.” The service’s dog walking lady arrived as a special visitor, bringing along with three of her dogs, appropriately dressed for the occasion. This went down particularly well, with all guests excited to play with their furry friends.

    Yew Trees chef, Francese, had the mammoth task of cooking for over 40 people, but rose to the challenge and prepared a feast of BBQ food with lots of healthy options.

    It was a great opportunity to promote healthy activities and eating well in a positive way, and everyone at both Ducks Halt and Yew Trees has expressed how much of a great day they had. Healthy Lifestyles is one of the key building blocks in our model of care, Personal PATHS.

    There is now a huge display up at Ducks Halt with photos of service users at the fun day, which everyone enjoys looking at and showing people who visit. All the service users, families and staff are already looking forward to their next big event.

  • Danshell Olympics


    Our services in the Midlands have been celebrating the Rio Olympics by hosting a Danshell Midlands Regional Olympics. The event was held on the same day as the Olympics Opening ceremony, perfect for getting everyone excited about the games to come.

    The four Midlands services worked together to produce an all-inclusive day, where both service users and staff took part in events, promoting fitness and teamwork for everyone involved.

    Events consisted of long jump, shotput (with bean bags), egg & spoon race (with tennis racquets and balls), a water running obstacle race and a penalty shoot-out. Matthew, a service user at Willow House, was the goalie and did a brilliant job!

    Everyone enjoyed a round-the-world buffet, made by the catering teams from each of the Midlands services, and decorated with flags made by service users. After recharging their batteries with some excellent food, service users and staff were ready for their last race – a 4x100m relay.

    The day was finished off with a presentation ceremony for the certificates. The staff organising the event arranged for an ice cream van to arrive, which was welcomed by service users and staff alike, and everyone received ice creams for their efforts.

    Olympics Collage

    Parents of one of the service users attending expressed how much they enjoyed the day, saying, “You are to be congratulated – a wonderful idea well executed. We both feel similar events incorporating other service users would be beneficial. The ice-creams afterwards were an inspirational touch indeed.”

    We also received some kind words from Andrew Smalley, Danshell Advocate from VoiceAbility, who attended the event:

    "I felt moved to make special mention today; Chelsi (the new Midlands advocate) and I attended the Midlands Regional Olympics Event today, and it was truly fabulous. The level of engagement from a very wide range of service users, some with significant support needs, was a joy to see – the event was a real exemplar of inclusivity.


    "Not only is this just really good fun and obviously immediately beneficial to all involved, but thinking in terms of the transforming care agenda, this sort of activity in the community at an unfamiliar and interesting location is just the sort of thing that will encourage and build people’s independence and vision of what they feel is possible.

    "Along with this, the accompanying boost to self-esteem will, I feel, be quite powerful - everyone was able to achieve something and be a real part of it. A large number of our advocacy partners expressed to us how much they were enjoying themselves and what a good day it had been, and this was completely self-evident. A huge well done from us to Cate (Manager at Toller Road Residential Service with Nursing) and all involved in the organisation of it."


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    To read more about the fantastic work that VoiceAbility do, click here to go to their website.

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