A £1.8m facility is set to transform the way services are delivered for adults with the most complex learning disabilities in Stoke-on-Trent.
The Waterside service has revamped the former Newstead Day Service building in Blurton into a state-of-the-art facility, with pioneering technology including the first ‘soft room’ in the city, an interactive music suite and sensory relaxation room.
The service, run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has been designed to deliver services which will help some of the most vulnerable people in the city maintain their independence; regain skills and capabilities; improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing; while enabling them to live in the city, in their own communities.
Services have been designed to meet specific needs of adults over the age of 18, for example those who use fixed, moulded wheelchairs and those with very limited sensory awareness.
The facility will help to meet an increasing need, as the number of people with complex and multiple learning disabilities in the city rises. There are currently 224 adults with severe learning disabilities in the city, and 832 with moderately severe learning disabilities. The figures are set to rise to 245 and 907 respectively by 2030. Statistics also show that there are over 1,000 children with disabilities in city schools that would benefit from specialised supportive services as they move into adulthood.
Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: “This is a state-of-the-art facility which demonstrates the forward thinking and ambition of the council’s Mandate for Change vision to promote independence and healthy lifestyles for all city residents. It is even more important in the light of the extremely tight budget pressures facing the authority again this year, and shows the council’s clear commitment to helping the most vulnerable people in the city.
“The building was an old institutionalised-style school which had been used as a day service since 1987. The building was structurally sound, but not fit for purpose to meet the needs of our residents for the future.
“This new facility is an important milestone for the city. Our aim is to provide the highest quality services, to help people with multiple and severe needs, in terms of reablement, independence, health and wellbeing, and as part of the personalisation agenda to give people control over the resources that are committed to them, and have a choice about how they are spent.
“By providing such an innovative, modern and integrated service, it reduces the need to place adults with learning disabilities outside of the area to match their care needs. Our investment will save money in the long term as a result of this.”
Waterside currently helps 59 people aged 18-64 years for an average of four days a week. The new facility will be able to help more people, from across the city, on a referral basis.
The service has a state-of-the-art soft room, which uses brightly coloured wall and floor mats and cushioned equipment so that even people with the most severe or restricted mobility issues can use the facilities with a degree of independence. The sensory relaxation suite features a waterbed, bubble machines that respond to touch and vibrating seats which respond to sound. The interactive music suite uses vibro-acoustic technology to allow users to feel the music as well as hear it, with a ‘magic mirror’ that asks users to move an object and demonstrate the cause and effect of this happening. A tactile room includes a ‘magic carpet’ which features superimposed images of leaves, snow scenes and other environments that users can alter by moving their arms or legs.
The facility also includes a physiotherapy room, where joined-up work with health professionals helps to promote physical wellbeing, a training kitchen and personal care suites. Waterside has also been developed with a wider community use in mind. It is wifi accessible, and has meeting rooms and a community dining area, with a view to looking at ways it may be able to be used at the weekend and evening for community activities. The centre’s changing facilities will be made available for parents and carers to use, and it is hoped that other agencies could use the facilities to hold surgeries, or for those with personal budgets to be able to purchase time in some of the rooms such as the tactile and sensory suites.
The service has been created following an 18-month make-over which saw office walls removed, rooms and open spaces reconfigured, including a dining area with an adjacent chill-out space that leads onto patio doors to the garden area.
Lord Mayor Terry Crowe, who will help to officially launch the facility on Wednesday (10 October), said: “This is a wonderful facility, and one which our city can be proud of. I am a wheelchair user myself and I am championing the cause of disabled people in Stoke-on-Trent during my year in office.
“This service will help people to identify and pursue goals in their lives. For many, these goals may be simple, and may involve making informed choices for the first time. The services provided here a vitally important.”
Service user Jonathan Walklate, 41, from Fenton, has multiple needs. He said: “The new centre is fabulous. It is very good for the people who have more complex needs, but I also like it too. It is lovely. I really like being in the music room and the tactile suite.”
For all media enquiries please contact Andrew Brunt in the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.