James’s Place: a unique day care centre

Danielle Rolfe tells Disability Horizons all about the recovery of an old country mansion and the adaptations done to transform it into a unique day care centre, called James’s Place.

My name is Danielle Rolfe and, along with my husband Guy and his parents, we’ve been restoring a crumbling country mansion. The main aim of this restoration was for the ground floor to become a community-based day care centre for people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties, all inspired by my Guy’s brother, who has epilepsy. Whilst we offer the house for conferences and weddings to raise funds for James’s Place, our day care business is at the core of everything we do.

Before meeting James I didn’t have much experience of people with disabilities. What was I to make of this individual who might randomly start shouting absurdities – I believe “sausages” was the word of that time – at the dinner table and then have a seizure in the middle of eating a Sunday roast?

How should I behave, and what should I talk about? I believe many feel like this to begin with. However, after only a short while watching my future husband, I realised the answer was that I should behave like myself. James didn’t need me to talk to him any differently than I would to anyone else. If he had a seizure, we’d all pitch in saving the wine glasses and cutlery from flying across the table and then pick up just where we had left off.

Guy, treated James as any younger brother would. I watched him tease James and wind him up, even on non-PC topics. I watched Guy hop in James’s wheelchair and do wheelies around the room. “Is this allowed,” I thought to myself!? But then I saw James smile, and laugh at Guy. I saw normal family life prevailing through the difficulties of living with a severe disability that could strike at any time, and I began to relax and be myself.

James's Place day centre So, from these humble beginnings where I was learning that James was just James, sometimes with seizures, sometimes without, I now find myself part of the behind the scenes engine of our day care centre.

Every day I mingle with our members who have a wide range of disabilities and incredibly unique needs. I have learnt to listen and understand those who may struggle to speak. I have learnt to be patient and encourage as many of our members to achieve so much more than what those who bring them along believe they can.

It’s clear to me that if someone has the opportunity, then time and time again they can achieve more than most assume is possible. We have some individuals come to view our offerings, and their carer will categorically state that the individual cannot possibly do x, y and z. Guy’s response is to ask the individual themselves if they would like to give it a go, and then turns a blind eye to anyone saying something isn’t possible.

Last week, for example, one of our members took a woodwork session. Many said he wouldn’t be able to saw through a piece of wood as he only has the use of one arm. Our enabler secured the wood to the work bench and although it took our member a long while to saw through the piece, he did it! And he did it entirely by himself. We knew this was possible right from the start, all we did was give him the time and tools in order to achieve this task himself.

James's Place day care centreMany may say you cannot possibly do something, but give it a try and you might well surprise yourself.

Time, encouragement and the tools to achieve are all you need. Yes, it may take a little longer, and yes it may be hard, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Have confidence and know that it is always worth trying.

Our member can now saw through a piece of wood in half the time he it took before, and has helped repair a wooden bench which now sits proudly in our gardens for all to use.

Visit the James’s Place day care centre website to find out more about what it offers.

By Danielle Rolfe

Check out…

Get in touch by emailing us at, messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons or leaving your comments below.

Back to top button