An innovative new housing scheme for people with learning disabilities is taking shape in a village outside Leicester.
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. Charlotte Betts, Affinity Trust’s Head of Housing, says: “It will provide a safe and secure 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.
Many of these features have been included thanks to the project team using NHS England’s version of the Design Quality Indicator (DQI). This is a toolkit for measuring, evaluating and improving the design quality of buildings.
Projects using DQI involve a wider group of stakeholders in the design of buildings than is usually the case. Ruth, who’s been supported by Affinity Trust since 2016, and who has personal experience of moving out of hospital accommodation, has been involved in this project. 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.”
Charlotte adds: “The overall feel will be domestic, in contrast to the institutional design residents may have been used to. Friends and families should enjoy visiting their relatives here.”
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