Lancashire’s Middleton Fells: the ‘enormous rewards’ of helping adults with complex needs achieve their full potential

A specialist residential care facility based in Kirkby Lonsdale, Middleton Fells caters for adults with complex needs such as autism, severe learning disabilities, and non-verbal communication challenges. The service they provide truly makes housing into homes.

By Jack Marshall
Thursday, 7th July 2022, 4:55 am

Comprising six newly-refurbished apartments centred around a large landscaped communal garden, Middleton Fells opened its doors three months ago, having formerly been based at Underley Garden 20 minutes away. According to manager Molly Livesey, the move was ‘meticulously planned’.

“We had to consider the needs of each individual resident and change is a big trigger for people with severe autism,” says Molly, 30, who was heavily involved in the planning and redesigning of the new site. “We made sure they were involved in the decision making as much as possible around things like colours, interiors, and furnishings.

“That really helped make the transition smooth for everybody and everything has been a resounding success,” she adds. “Providing bespoke accommodation alongside expert care has an incredibly positive impact on our residents; they have the chance to develop to their full potential and we all feel honoured to be part of that.”

Middleton Fells

Middleton Fells offers person-centred care, ensuring homes are tailored to the needs of each individual: one home was designed with a sensory room rather than a kitchen, and another resident has their own private garden with soft flooring. The facility also runs activities like trips to the swimming pool and the zoo, walks, and on-site events and holiday festivities.

“I grew up around people in care,” says Molly, from Kirkby Stephen. “My parents lived in a residential service for children with emotional behavioural difficulties as managers and, over the weekends, some of the kids would stay with us, so I had that understanding and empathy for people who may have had adverse experiences.

“Following that, I went to uni and did a placement in a special needs school, which is when I knew I wanted to work in something where I could really empathise with people with learning difficulties,” she adds. “Empathy is so important - if you can’t put yourself in their shoes, you can’t do the job. That passion for the work has never left me.”

Molly is now heading up Middleton Fells’ on-site team of 20 skilled key workers operating alongside a dedicated therapy team consisting of a consultant clinical psychologist, an assistant psychologist, a speech and language therapist, and an occupational therapist.

A Middleton Fells resident during a sailing excursion

“Care work is so rewarding, but we don’t just provide a care service, we think about what people can achieve,” Molly explains. “Although residents aren’t necessarily going to achieve what a neurotypical person may achieve, they can have a really good quality of life, which is when you really know you’re doing the job right.

“For example, we took one non-verbal resident sailing for the first time, and he learned the words ‘boat’ and ‘go’ and was just smiling the whole time,” she continues. “Those moments make you realise that you’re giving somebody a happy life and that’s what we do it for.

“It sounds like a cliche, but making a difference is the most enjoyable aspect. When we help an individual overcome a challenge, large or small, the reward we all feel is enormous.”

Jobs at Middleton Fells:

A Middleton Fells resident enjoying the garden
Middleton Fells