A WOKINGHAM care home Oakfield Court is celebrating 35 years of supporting the borough’s community.
Oakfield Court, which opened its doors on Barkham Road in July 1986, was the first supported living scheme for residents with learning disabilities in the UK.
From its inception, part of its ethos has been helping Wokingham tenants to thrive — and many people who moved in 35 years ago are still living there today.
Vanessa Smith, operational lead at Oakfield Court, said when the home first opened, nobody believed people with learning disabilities could live independently.
“But Oakfield Court and its residents have continued to prove people wrong,” she said. “We’ve always focused on safety and giving people a safe environment to live in enables them to thrive.”
The care home encourages people to take responsibility for their own lives, including health, friendship and finances. It also offers tailored support for residents
“We work to instil confidence, so that people can do this,” Ms Smith added. “Some people just need a little [reassurance].”
One resident, Chris, said the supported living scheme has helped him grow as an individual.
“I wanted my independence before I moved to Oakfield Court in the 80s,” he said. “It’s great here.
“Vanessa is fantastic. She helped me sort my benefits, helps me with paperwork and gives me the support to lead my own life how I want to.”
Jackie and Steve, who also live on-site and recently celebrated their wedding anniversary, said staff have also given them valuable support over the years.
They moved in on their wedding day.
“We were excited, but it was a bit scary for both of us,” Jackie said. “The staff listen to us and you can do what you want.
“They don’t tell you you have to do this or that, and encourage us to make decisions for ourselves.”
Ms Smith said although the home’s model is 35-years-old, the residents’ testaments prove it works “perfectly”.
“The stability and longevity of people’s lives here speaks for itself,” she said. “There is no doubt that this community will be here for many more years to come.”