An innovative new housing scheme for people with learning disabilities is taking shape in a village outside Leicester. Thanks to socially-distanced building work, the project has not been delayed by the lockdown.
The development is being used to pilot new NHS design guidance for community-based accommodation for people with learning disabilities.
Affinity Trust is working with Leicestershire County Council and local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups on the scheme, designed for people with complex needs who have been living in restrictive hospital accommodation.
The three-quarter acre site in the village of Markfield will feature four self-contained bungalows, each with its own garden, as well as a unit for staff and a landscaped communal garden.
The development is designed to meet the needs of people whose behaviour can challenge. Richard Tellam Clark, Affinity Trust’s Director of Specialist Support, says: “It will provide a safe, non-institutional environment in a semi-rural setting. Importantly, it is a place that people can call their long-term home.”
Design features include:
assistive technology including external door and window sensors
adjustable lighting to create a low-arousal environment
generous space standards to enable the safe provision of higher levels of support if required and a feeling of space for each person within their new home.
This development has also been used to pilot the Design Quality Indicator (DQI) process for community-based accommodation for people with learning disabilities. DQI is a toolkit developed by the NHS for measuring, evaluating and improving the design quality of buildings.
The DQI process involved a wide range of stakeholders including local commissioners, Affinity Trust staff, NHS managers, occupational therapists, architects and experts by experience. Ruth, who’s been supported by Affinity Trust since 2016, and who has personal experience of moving out of hospital accommodation, played a key role in the DQI process. She met the architects to review the design and to make recommendations for improvement, based on what she feels is important for someone moving from hospital accommodation into a new home.
Ruth says: “It made me feel really happy and positive. I’m glad they are trying to make it perfect for other people, and I really hope that they love it.”
Richard adds: “The overall feel will be domestic, in contrast to the institutional design tenants may have been used to. These new homes will be life-changing for the new tenants.”
The site is being developed thanks to a capital grant from NHS England, designed to help people with learning disabilities and autism move out of secure hospitals into the community.
The scheme builds on Affinity Trust’s knowledge and expertise as a provider of specialist support for people with learning disabilities under the Transforming Care programme.
“I live next door to this site and would like to say how tidy staff are keeping it during its construction, with minimal disturbance to us” – Steven, on Facebook