Kalm Living

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Kalm Living is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
Mike, Lynda and Carl Armstrong
Our cosy cafe
Kalm Supported Living support individuals aged 16 to 65 living
independently in single-sex houses of their choice. They offer a
unique 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service, which is delivered
by dedicated support staff. Lynda Armstrong and Mike Armstrong
founded the organisation in 2008, in response to local need.
Following several meetings with social services, the agreed
methods were implemented to ensure a quality and effective
service. Lynda and Mike discuss the methods they implement.
We provide support to people with learning difficulties who live across eight privately
rented houses. All the individuals we support have their own tenancy agreements,
which they are responsible for, but if standards fall below the high expectations that
we have, staff are there to offer support. In this way we can ensure service users feel
safe while they take control of their lives and achieve their own level of confidence.
High standard of service
We founded the organisation in response to local need. We have 50 years
experience between us, and from one initial service user, who is still with the
company, we now employ 37 staff who support 32 individual clients..
There is a clear need for ongoing education to enable individuals with learning
disabilities to live as independently as possible. To this end we have created our
own “Educare Centre” where people can learn independent living skills as well as
having the opportunity to gain work experience in our café, pottery and second-
hand shop while experiencing ongoing social interaction. All service users are
encouraged to engage with the local community by attending clubs and activities,
»Founders: Lynda and Mike
»Managers: Carl Armstrong
»Established in 2008
»Based in Appledore, Devon
»No. of employees: 37
»Services: Support for
individuals to live their own
Kalm Living
including the Special Olympics where
we are extremely proud of our service
users’ achievements.
One service user has been employed
full time by a local company for the last
18 months and others attend various
work-related local projects; however,
all our students are here for different
reasons and they all need support at
different levels, which is what we strive
to achieve.
Investment in staff and
We have excellent staff retention
rates, with some staff having been
with the company since its inception.
This ensures continuity for our service
users, with staff training and continual
professional development resulting
in 95 per cent of staff acquiring NVQ
Level 2 or above. The staff team is the
company’s most valuable asset and
we ensure all staff are consulted and
supported as we work together to
achieve our shared goals.
KSL operates an open-door policy for
staff, service users and their families
and actively encourages families to be
involved in the service user’s life. The
location of our offices, café and shop
on the same site allows managers
to see service users on a daily basis,
ensuring we provide and maintain a
highly individual service.
As a company we are always
interested in new technology and have
researched and how use AutonoMe
to help service users develop their
independent living skills. AutonoMe
has the world’s largest library of
instructional videos to assist those
with learning disabilities including an
interactive cookbook featuring easy to
understand instructions for snacks and
main meals, and we encourage service
users to plan their own meals and
make healthy choices.
Hubba Choir
To help our service users engage in
community activities, we founded the
Hubba Choir in 2012. The following
year they took part in a competition,
the prize for which was an opportunity
to open the show for singer Charlie
Landsborough when he performed
at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple.
Twenty-two service users took part and
KSL ten year anniversary
KSL operates
an open-door
policy for
staff, service
users and their
families and
families to be
involved in the
service user’s
Highlighting best practice
at the interval a collection was made
for Children in Need.
Each year, the Hubba Choir also take
part in Appledore Christmas Fayre,
where they entertain the public with
songs from a chosen film as well
as traditional Christmas carols. The
performances are always enjoyed by
service users, relatives, staff and the
public and taking part in these public
performances helps to build service
users’ confidence and self belief.
Overcoming industry
There are numerous challenges facing
the industry as a whole, including
financial issues surrounding the
increase in the minimum wage,
enhanced pension contributions and
the ongoing confusion over sleep-
in rates. The implementation of the
recent supported living reviews and
unrealistic timescales have placed a
large burden on both support and
office staff over the last 12 months,
and lack of communication between
governing bodies has resulted in
numerous grey areas. Staff changes
within social service provision have
resulted in lack of consistency for
service users with some having had as
many as three social workers within
the space of 12 months, which is
clearly far from ideal.
Our goals for the future include
the provision of independent living
flats which would bridge the gap
between supported living and living
totally independently. There is a need
to provide this as an in-between
stage where service users are more
independent but have the assurance
of support if required. Enhanced
independence can be achieved
together with further integration
into the community. The model we
envisage would be based on that of
current Sheltered Accommodation
Services but would not be age
restricted. Our recent registration with
the CQC will provide us with a wider
spectrum for our support services
in the future. We will continue to
support local charities through our
local shop and café, as we have in
are always
enjoyed by
service users,
relatives, staff
and the public
and taking
part in these
helps to build
service users’
and self belief
Jack was born with multiple health issues including
Down syndrome and his parents were advised that the
duration and quality of his life would be severely limited.
In addition, at the age of 12 Jack was diagnosed with
leukaemia and fought for his life for 18 months.
While living at home, Jack began attending Barnstaple
Ability Football where he met several existing KSL
service users and strong friendships were formed to
the point where Jack decided that he would like to
join his friends in supported living.
This was a difficult decision for Jack’s parents to come
to terms with, but they realised that this was Jack’s
dream and he should be encouraged to follow it.
Since joining KSL in 2013 Jack has grown in ability,
confidence and self-belief and for the last two years has
attended the Special Olympics, gaining medals on both
occasions. Jack also volunteers at a local day centre.
Jack with his Olympic


This article was sponsored by Kalm Living. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.