Looking back, my move to Milton Keynes was a big step for me since I was leaving my parental home, and that is a major step for anyone. Though I acquired a degree of experience of living away from home and managing catering and related issues at both college and university, I still had more to learn in the early years in Milton Keynes.
Despite the service being a residential service, it was far ahead of its time in 1984. I was moving into a sheltered-yet-unsheltered accommodation where I had to cater for myself and plan my day with no input from the support staff. I had the freedom to come and go without needing to explain where I was going - but I had to do this between the times I had staff assistance.
It was only in the last five years in Milton Keynes that I increasingly found the service was restrictive. I resented having to plan activities weeks or months in advance with no certainty that I would get the help that had been booked. I resented the feeling that I was an 'overgrown child' with no possibility of being given any adult responsibilities while I remained in that accommodation.
The accommodation in Milton Keynes is geared to people who need the additional support that is provided by a residential service as such accommodation shelters service-users from the outside world. In terms of all adult responsibilities (such as budgeting for and paying bills), service-users are essentially treated as over-grown children. This is because, by default, anyone who needs to be in residential care is deemed unable to manage this type of activity.
For example, I could go away on holiday for 3 weeks in the middle of a cold winter and leave all 6 lights on in my flat and the heating up at maximum and the service would have to pay the abnormally high bill, not me. I would probably not even been asked not to do it again.
Read my Lament for a Lost Service, in which I mourn the potential demise of a ground-breaking service, brought down by the U.K. government's Care Standards Agency from January 2004.