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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."


Click here for more information on our services.

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

Significant Improvement to Hollyhurst Residential Care Home

Hollyhurst Front Door    

Hollyhurst, our residential care service in Darlington, has undergone a significant investment to refurbish the home, with service users playing a full part in the plans.

A number of bedrooms have been re-configured to provide modern en-suite bathrooms, with walk-in showers, supporting the privacy and dignity of service users.

The décor across the service has been updated, with service users being encouraged to help choose colour schemes, wallpaper and furnishings. A number of rooms have been renamed to reflect the history of the building and the town, which was formerly a private residence called Bellerose.

Individual service users have contributed ideas, which include a pillar box red front door with a majestic lion door knocker.

The gardens have also benefitted from a makeover with the creation of allotments and a greenhouse to enable the growing of vegetables.

Hollyhurst supports adults who are living with a learning disability and complex needs and whose behaviours may be perceived as challenging. The team at Hollyhurst can also support people who may have an associated mental or physical health need.

Service users are supported to lead active and fulfilling lives, doing the things most people take for granted.

Activities depend on individual preferences and can include community based activities which give people opportunities to meet others, gain new experiences, participate in leisure activities and practice social skills. Recent events at Hollyhurst include an It’s a Knockout tournament, featuring lots of water and a more sedate garden party is planned for later in the summer.

Hollyhurst Veg Patch Collage

   Hollyhurst Veg Patch 

Jo Crook, Manager at Hollyhurst, said: “The improvements at Hollyhurst have really made a difference. Our service users have been brimming with ideas and excitement and gave us lots of thoughts about how the home should look.

“It is so important that this is a homely, safe environment. All the bedrooms are personalised to suit the individual and the creation of en-suite bathrooms has enhanced the facilities. We are all absolutely delighted with the results.”

Mel Ramsey, Chief Executive, said: “We are committed to encouraging the people who use our services to be part of their local communities and to provide opportunities for them to contribute and participate in activities that promote their independence.

“This includes having a say in the decoration of their home and both the team and service users have done a fantastic job at Hollyhurst.”

Click here to view more information about Hollyhurst.

Wast Hills Hospital Wins National Award

Our team at Wast Hills Hospital in Kings Norton, Birmingham have been recognised for their excellence at the prestigious National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards, praised for their ability to enhance quality of life and increase happiness and wellbeing in the people they care for.

Wast Hills 1

Wast Hills received the ‘Great Autism Practice Award’, which is presented ‘to a team or individual who demonstrate evidence of good practice in their services and support to people with autism’.

The award nomination noted that ‘the Wast Hills staff team are all aware of the cornerstone of supporting individuals with Autism, stepping into their world to provide support and feel privileged in having developed the skills to be able to do so, rather than expecting service users to fit in to any mould that may not be the best application of their potential.’

Amy Childs, Manager at Wast Hills, said:  “We are all incredibly proud that Wast Hills has won this award.  It is particularly satisfying that it recognises that we are providing support that is person-centred and enables each individual to communicate their needs and desires in a way that is comfortable for them.”

Wast Hills     

Sharena Record, our Director of Operations for the Midlands area, said:  “The whole team at Wast Hills thoroughly deserve this award.  There is wonderful work going on every single day at Wast Hills and I am delighted that it has been recognised in this way.”Mel Ramsey, our Chief Executive Officer, said:  “I am absolutely thrilled for Wast Hills.

“I am so very proud to be working with such a fantastic team of people who are making such a positive difference to the lives of the people we support.”Wast Hills is an independent hospital providing specialist support and services for adults on the autistic spectrum with associated complex needs. Click here to read more about Wast Hills.

The National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and Autism and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisation who excel in providing quality care.

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