Lindsay Perryman, CEO
The Meath, September 2021
Louise making lunch at Cedar View
75th V.E. Day Anniversary Celebrations at The Meath, May 2020
Enjoying getting out and about after lockdown restrictions
Self Expression, an exhibition at Godalming Museum
Coming Soon! ASDAN at Meath!
Our Recognising Ability blog is a great way to find out more about some of the people within The Meath community who are not often in the spotlight. Unusually, this month’s blog features a prominent figure within the organisation, indeed she is our figure head. However, despite having joined The Meath over five and a half years ago, CEO Lindsay Perryman is not often found centre stage. Lindsay explained that she is “always delighted and extremely proud to take the microphone or talk to supporters and about The Meath, but it’s not about me. While I’m driving The Meath vision forward across our services, it’s the people we support who should be in the spotlight.”
Pleased with the opportunity to catch up with Lindsay to find out more, I sat down with her over coffee in Café Meath with a view to being able to find out more about her career journey and the future of The Meath.
Initially Lindsay joined The Meath in January 2016 supporting then CEO Mike Keighley and later became CEO in August 2017, the 125th anniversary year of the charity. Her career in Health and Social Care has spanned over 30 years having learned on the job and worked her way up the social care ladder. In 1994 she qualified as a Learning Disability Nurse.
Lindsay recalled how different things were back in the 1990’s in the Social Care sector. In 1990 she started her career as a Health Care Assistant at Manor House Hospital, Aylesbury, a specialist hospital for people with learning disabilities. It was a huge institution with 500 beds, its own shop, bank, hairdressers, and dance hall. The residents lived in wards. Used to the enabling, person centered approach at The Meath, I questioned how comfortable she had felt about the service. “It worked at the time. Society has moved on immeasurably since then, so it just doesn’t compare with what we offer here at The Meath today. However, in some ways having a shop on site offers many residents more freedom than going to the shops on the local high street because many of them could visit the onsite shop unsupported but would have required support to access the local shops.
I remember when we first started having student nurses at Manor House Hospital, they saw the organisation with fresh eyes, quite rightly they questioned things and some of the services updated a little.”
Lindsay explained that her own experience was typical of the changes taking place across the UK. We had reached a shifting point in social care, and our understanding of what constitutes the best care was changing. A greater emphasis was put on personalisation and on supporting residents to fulfil their social role, to feel valued. In 2001 The Government published the white paper ‘Valuing People’ (the first of its kind since 1971), it was a huge turning point for social care for people with learning disabilities and gradually care homes moved further towards a more person-centered approach.
The Meath’s own history mirrors this. Meath residents in the 1990’s lived in a ward with only a curtain forming a cubicle and they dined together in a central canteen, at a set time. Today The Meath is extremely proud to offer person-centered care and to enable the people we support to live as independently as possible. As Lindsay put it “The people we support are encouraged to get as involved as possible with all aspects of home life such as meal planning, shopping, cooking and taking out the recycling.”
“They have the best of both worlds now. On site we have Café Meath, access to our holistic health care and wellbeing services and our programme of daily activities at the Skills Centre. However, the people we support also really enjoy being active, valued members of the local community, ‘Changing Perceptions’, our High Street social enterprise is the perfect platform for this.”
Lindsay is fiercely proud of the people who are supported by The Meath and found that the experience of living through the pandemic really highlighted just how extraordinarily special The Meath community is. “The people we support dealt with the national lockdown so well, mostly they quietly accepted it which was extremely humbling. The feeling of pulling together was immense. I was exceedingly proud of our staff teams and was also overwhelmed by the kind support that we received from the community.”
While The Meath remains cautious, there is a sense of the peak of the pandemic being over. Lindsay explained that after having had to focus on COVID-19 for a long period, she is now navigating some new challenges which are indicative of our time “We’re still working in challenging times, we rely on fundraised income to sustain most of our life enriching services in the Skills Centre and Changing Perceptions but income from Trusts and Foundations is vastly reduced. We are also affected by the UK wide recruitment issues; therefore, our team are working hard to mitigate against these challenges to bring in the support workers that we need.”
Pleasingly, Lindsay and her team are also now able to look ahead to new horizons. “It’s wonderful to look forward to new projects. Once again, the people we support can enjoy regular activities at external providers such as Riding for the Disabled, Adult Education Centres and Arthouse Unlimited. We are also delighted to be able to work in the local community once again.”
Indeed, there is much to look forward to and with restrictions eased, some exciting new projects are possible. Later this month the Skills Centre will be exhibiting a selection of artwork at Godalming Museum. Once again local schools and businesses will be supporting with the forthcoming Christmas Appeal and on 10th April 2022 there will be a very special concert at Glyndebourne in support of The Meath. The charity is also launching an exciting array of ASDAN accredited courses across the residential and day services.
The Meath will be offering a range of ASDAN courses within the residential, Skills Centre and health care services. Accredited courses which cover a broad range of topics such Life Skills, I.T, Horticulture, Health and Fitness, will be available in the New Year. Lindsay outlined the benefits of these courses for the people we support. “By taking an accredited course in a topic of their choice, the people we support will be able to feel a real sense of achievement and will be able to look back on their own, documented learning journey. The courses are also a great way to really encourage support staff to promote independent life skills throughout our residential services. We look forward to updating family members and supporters with news of our ASDAN courses, and to celebrating successes as we recognise the considerable ability of the people we support.”