Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Windlesford Green artist's impression

An artist's impression of the new supported apartments housing scheme for learning disabled people at Windlesford Green, Rothwell.

New Leeds scheme to revolutionise housing for learning disabled people

A new scheme to revolutionise housing for learning disabled people in Leeds has been given the green light.

People with learning disabilities living in the out-dated, Leeds City Council-run hostel at Windlesford Green, Rothwell, have heard that work on the new supported apartments to replace the existing block will begin within weeks.

The life-changing project will mean that the occupants will enjoy greater choice over how they live their lives, a higher level of supported independence and as much privacy – or companionship – as they prefer.

At present, staff try hard to provide a modern service within an inflexible building that is no longer fit for purpose. The new facility will enable them to improve the service they deliver and transform the lives of the people they help.

Councillor Peter Harrand, Executive Board member for adult health and social care, explained:
“This is a completely new way of meeting the needs of some of the city’s most severely disabled people. It puts the person in control of his or her own life, instead of people’s care having to fit into institutional timetables and rotas.

“People will be able to get up and go to bed when they want, decide what they want to eat, and when they eat it. They will be in charge of their own daily arrangements and in doing so, will receive as much or as little support as they wish.

“The Windlesford Green residents are thrilled at the prospect of these new-found freedoms, which have not been possible in the old-style hostel and which most other people take completely for granted.”

The last hurdle in the process was finally jumped last week, when planning permission was given for a new, state-of the art apartment building.

The 23 people currently living at Windlesford Green will now be able to watch their new homes being built on an adjacent site. They have already played an important part in designing the new apartments.

A partnership between Leeds City Council and Accent Housing, a Bradford-based housing association has made the project possible. The apartments have been designed by Leeds-based, award-winning architects West & Machell, who specialise in designing homes for older people and people with learning or physical disabilities.

The ten two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom apartment have been designed to a high specification that meets the needs of learning disabled people at the same time as supporting all the key features of everyday home life.

The design includes a great deal of flexibility, which can be used to ‘future proof’ the apartments. This means that as tenants become older, or their disabilities increase, the properties can be adapted to meet changing needs and people would not have to give up their homes because of increased disability.

The building will include level access throughout and lifts to all floors, with a ground-floor communal lounge opening onto gardens and a patio.

The apartments will have low-level kitchen work surfaces for wheelchair users, all will be en-suite, and the accent will be on comfort, safety and practicality. Tenants will decide on interior design, colour schemes and furniture.

This new model of supported living for people with learning disabilities will mean far-reaching changes in the way Adult Social Care staff go about their work. While staff will have a round-the-clock presence, the support they give to tenants will take the form of high-level home care-style support, rather than the more traditional approach currently in place at Windlesford Green. This will mean extra training for existing staff to help them provide the appropriate form of care that promotes people’s independence, dignity and choice.

Councillor Harrand continued:
“The new apartments will not only be a modern new building, but a modern new service that will lay the foundations for all adult care services in the future.

“The person, not the ‘system’, will be at the centre of everything we do. Learning disabled people will have a package of care tailored exactly to their needs and wishes. Each one will be different and will change to suit changing needs. At Windlesford Green, we are creating a blueprint for the future in the care and support of people with learning disabilities.”

For media enquiries please contact:
John Donegan, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 247 4450
email John.Donegan@leeds.gov.uk