No 92 – one year on

A ground breaking pilot project in Heaton Moor, Stockport, providing a care home for young people with life-limiting conditions and complex needs, opened its doors one year ago.

Number 92, operated by Francis House Families Ltd – a trading subsidiary of Francis House Family Trust the registered charity behind Francis House Children’s Hospice – aims to provide a comfortable and supportive living environment where young people with life-limiting conditions can thrive and experience the joys of everyday life.

Today a staff of 23 including registered nurses, play specialists, care team members and learning disability nurses provide care around the clock at the home.

We caught up with Dermot, Angela and Fiona – three people closely involved in the project, one year on.

Man stood outside a brick building

Dermot Murphy – Registered Manager of Number 92

Dermot Murphy – Registered Manager

“If you asked me how we did it, I’m not sure I know the answer to be honest,” says Dermot, “But I think part of that was the quality of the staff we have recruited and the way they have come together as a team so quickly.

“What I don’t underestimate is the support that we have received from the parents themselves because it’s a tremendously difficult transition for a young person to leave home where they have lived all their lives to move to be cared for by other people. We have received an awful lot of trust from those parents and we are enormously grateful for that.

“Because we staged it in the way that we have, and none of it has been rushed, we’ve managed to get to know each of the six young people as they have moved in. That has paid dividends and as new staff have come in, and also the staff that had worked at Francis House, they have worked very hard to understand them as individual people rather than just making sure that they care for them. There has been a lot of work gone into making sure that the transition has been as smooth as possible.

“We’ve increased the staffing as the young people moved in, and it’s not caused any disruption as we were careful in the recruitment process and made sure that all the people we appointed weren’t just there to fill posts but shared the values that we’ve got as Francis House Families Ltd. Everybody working here cares about the young people.

“It’s been a joy to see the young people develop, see their personalities blossom where they are, and see most of the families take up opportunities that weren’t available to them before because they’re not having to act as carers. They are now being able to relate to their other sons, daughters, and siblings not as carers, but as part of the family and just to enjoy their company which is great to see.”

Woman wearing a pink jumper sat beside a computer in an office setting

Angela Doyle – Clinical Lead at number 92

Angela Doyle – Clinical Lead at number 92

In September, registered nurse Angela Doyle, a familiar face at Francis House, was appointed Clinical Lead. All of the young people had moved into their new home and the service was establishing itself.

“We’ve come a long way,” says Angela, “We’ve faced some challenges but we’re doing really well and the team is doing amazing work. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all the members of staff. I’m in a different environment to Francis House which is very different to anything I’ve done before, I feel like we’ve all started afresh and we’ve all been wanting to do the right thing for the young people.

“We’re continually tapping into new characteristics or new interests that the young people are starting to get involved in. It’s going really well and from the parents point of view they are starting to see a different side of their loved one that they probably wouldn’t have done before from a social engagement point of view.

“We’ve been able to take the young people out to a karaoke in a local pub and the community were really engaged with this young person to get them involved and up on the stage which was amazing.

“Whenever we have opportunities that we come across, we’re pushing as hard as we can, to get the young people integrated within the community. Which has been a really big thing we’ve achieved, more so in the last couple of months. We’re starting to get recognised within Stockport as a new service and people in the community are also starting to identify what they can offer us.”

Father Christmas comes to meet Paul at number 92

Angela explains: “Simple things like arranging for a young person to go off to the local barbers getting their hair cut, the girls getting their nails done in the local beauty salon. We could easily arrange for the barbers to come into the home to do it but there should be no reason why we can’t go and access them so they can have the full experience.

“With the additional needs of the young people they are also quite complex and unique. We’ve done the basics, meeting all the needs of the young people and now we’re trying to get more out of it by liaising with the colleges, the local authorities, getting music therapy and other areas that possibly weren’t explored in the past.

“Some of the young people aren’t great in busy environments so instead we can recognise when they’re having a good day or when they’re not necessarily having the best day, and because we focus on them as individuals and not around a set routine, we can be flexible as to how we can meet their needs. For example, if a young person is displaying signs that they’re not having a good day, we could do a foot or head massage or access the sensory room or they could have a long bath which in itself is a form of relaxation. Because we have the time to allow that to happen it’s not seen as a task, it’s seen as an activity to ensure that their wellbeing needs are met.

“As a team we’ve worked really hard to build trusting relationships with the parents. It’s been a challenge because for parents to leave their young person in a home and not have them in their own homes any more has been really hard for them.  Now, families are seeing us as extra support and coming to us and asking for help, the relationships we’ve built with some of the parents has been amazing.”

Woman brushing the hair of a young woman in a wheelchair in a bedroom setting with bunting

Elizabeth lives at number 92

Fiona Ferguson – mum to Elizabeth

After twenty years of being a full-time carer, Fiona now has a job she loves working with adults with learning disabilities in a day centre. Elizabeth, 20, moved into number 92 in April 2023 and for the first two months Fiona continued to take her to college, picking her up and bringing her back.

“Even though Elizabeth was living there, the staff learnt a lot from me as I was there a lot of the time, it was reassuring for me because I could see the progress that the staff were making with her, caring for her and looking after her.

“I was very hands on in the early days and it’s been nice that I’ve been able to take a big step back now. I do feel now that I have let go of Elizabeth. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable and relaxed enough to not have to think about Elizabeth’s care because she was receiving that care that I wanted right from the word go.

“It’s been a new experience for both Elizabeth and I. She’s getting to do things that I would never have dreamt of doing with her and she loves it. She’s living like a 20 year old should, rather than with me, she gets choices and options now with all the staff there, whereas when she was at home she never had those options. Her world opened up to new experiences and living with friends the same age, because they are all friends now, it’s really nice to see how they interact with each other.

"For me I’ve got peace of mind which is my biggest takeaway and I know the care she gets is just exceptional. It’s wonderful and I have no concerns the way Elizabeth is looked after and cared for. Elizabeth is in this house now where she’ll be forever more, and receive the best care that she can, and for me as her mum it’s just unbelievable."

Fiona Ferguson, Elizabeth's mum

Fiona continues: “It gives me great satisfaction that if anything was to happen to me, Elizabeth is well cared for and she’s set up for life now with 92.

I love that it’s an open door policy, I can just turn up, unannounced. I’m made to feel welcome whatever day or time I turn up, there is always time for a chat and a cup of tea. It’s been life-changing for myself, my husband Emmett, Elizabeth, and her brothers Edward and James.”

Francis House Families Ltd manages the day to day running of number 92. Income comes through the individual residents Local Authority Care Budget and additional medical assessment payments (where appropriate).

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