Mum praises County Durham care home for enabling son to live life to the full

David Hawkins from Grizedale with Mum Joyce

A mum has spoken about her son getting the best care of his life at a County Durham residential care home that supports adults with complex needs.

Joyce Hawkins, who lives in Middlesbrough, said: “The best thing to happen was that David went into Grizedale. It has changed his whole life because it is a small home with very caring people looking after him and he’s improved in every possible way.”



The ethos at Grizedale, at Leadgate, near Consett, is to help the individuals it supports live the fullest life possible and to ensure their likes, preferences and interests are catered for and taken into account.

David was born ‘a perfect baby’ but had an adverse reaction to the whooping cough vaccine, which hampered his development and left him unable to walk and speak.

Joyce said: “Although he looked wonderful, he was very sick all the time.”

For a long time, the family looked after him at home, where they tried to ‘make his life as happy as possible’, said Joyce. She added his two sisters were a great help with him.

For a while he went to a centre for a few hours each day, but they ‘couldn’t quite understand him’ and he then went to live at large facility, which, while having very kind and caring staff, was huge and impersonal with a lot of children to look after.

It later shut down as care in the community, focusing on caring for people as individuals in a small, more person-centric setting, became the preferred practice.

David, 73, has been at Grizedale, a seven-bed residential care home, which is part of Salutem Care and Education, for 26 years.

It supports disabled adults with complex needs and mental health issues to ‘live their best lives’.

Joyce said: “His life has been transformed since he went to live there. The home helped to make him a different young man. Whereas he was just isolated into himself, he’s learnt to mix with other people. He now has friends around him.”

During his time at Grizedale, David’s dexterity has improved through playing board games, Connect 4 and doing jigsaws.

He also enjoys going for trips in the home’s minibus and loves going out to eat with his favourite meal being scampi and chips.

Joyce added: “I think the most improvement has been to see him using his hands.

“In one way it was sad for me that other people were having to look after David, but it has really transformed his life because at Grizedale all the staff know exactly how to treat him, and it is done with warmth, care and love.”

Joyce and her two daughters visit David as often as possible, and he also looks forward to a weekly phone call with his mum on a Saturday.


Jackie Carr, Grizedale manager, said: “At the heart of everything we do is delivering individualised support and creating a happy, loving and homely environment where residents can thrive and live as independently as possible.

“David is a prime example of what a difference high qualify supported accommodation can make to people’s lives.”

David’s key worker Lesley Dixon is fully aware of all his likes and dislikes. She said: “David likes jelly babies. If you ask him what he likes, he’ll tell you that’s his favourite sweet. He likes board games, he likes playing Connect 4. He is a very friendly guy.”

Grizedale, which supports disabled adults with complex needs and mental health issues, has been rated overall good by the industry regulator, the Care Quality Commission.