Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Visit to Kentwood Lodge - supported living in Reading

Earlier this week I got a call out of the blue from a local businessman called Paul Wayman. Paul is based in Kentwood Hill in West Reading and he had seen an article in last week's GetReading about my support for Reading Borough Council's call for owners of empty properties in Reading to consider letting them out to local charities.

What had caught Paul's eye in particular was this paragraph:

'The council's learning disabilities team meanwhile, is looking for a number of homes for people with a learning disability to live in. Ideally, the properties should be family sized so that two or more people can live together and share the facilities'

This happened to be right up Paul's street, so to speak and he decided to pick up the phone and give me a call about a local business venture of his he thought I might be interested in.
Paul, a Reading-man born and bred, it turns out, has had a property portfolio in Reading for a number of years, as a private landlord. A community-minded sort of person, Paul already participates in the Council's highly-successful 'Deposit Guarantee Scheme' which helps people on low incomes on to the housing ladder.

But Paul wanted to goone step further as a landlord and recently trained for a diploma in caring for people with learning disabilities, and on the back of this he has recently set up a business in West Reading called Ultimate Choices in Care.
After completing his training qualification Paul refurbished and equipped Kentwood Lodge a former hotel on Kentwood Hill with a view to renting it out tenants with learning disabilities.

I went to meet Paul and Manager of Kentwood Lodge, Joy Sialwiindi to find out more earlier this week and I was really impressed by what I found.
Paul showed me round the large detached 6-bedoomed property. The rooms were airy, with all mod cons, and all kitted out to meet national care standards. They say the test is whether or not you would feel happy if a family member lived there and I have to say I think I would be. As Paul said, he is trying to get away from the stereotypical "care home" and towards giving people with learning disabilities a chance to live as independently as possible in modern, comfortable surroundings. This approach fits in with the national agenda of the Care Quality Commission, as well as the voluntary sector and local councils, which is to move away from residential care towards independent- something I have become familiar with as Chair of HHCC Scrutiny Panel on the Council in Reading.

Needless to say since Kentwood Lodge opened its doors back in January officers and social workers from Wokingham and West Berkshire Councils have been in touch wanting to procure rooms for clients. But Paul is adamant that people in Reading should get first preference. "I want local people to benefit' he told me.

We have a real shortage of specialist 'supported living' accomodation both for elderly people and for people with learning disabilities in Reading and it is great to see landlords from the local private rented sector stepping up to help provide this type of housing.
I have written to Reading Borough Council officers urging them to visit Kentwood Lodge to see if Paul might be able to help. I would like wish Paul and Joy all the best in their endeavours - we need more people like them in Reading!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to Joy on this enormous task that God has given you, to manage such an institution. God bless you and take care of those that are in your care. love Dorothy.