Building homes for people with complex needs requires consideration at every juncture to ensure that the environment is suitable for each stage of an individual’s care.

This goes for people with degenerative conditions such as dementia and Huntington’s Disease, as well
 as those suffering a rapid decline in health, perhaps through brain injury or stroke.

At the preliminary design stages, the Equality Act is a piece of legislation at the forefront
of our considerations in terms of making reasonable adjustments to the living spaces for our service users.

In addition to the Equality Act, the Care Quality Commission’s regulations are also imperative to ensuring we deliver care that is not just satisfactory but outstanding.

Regulation 10, ‘Dignity and Respect’ includes the provision of privacy for when service
users need and want it, alongside giving them support to allow them to be autonomous, independent and involved in their local community.

This regulation is an area we’ve focused significant efforts upon, across both our existing and new care homes.
 As such, alongside providing suitable personal care facilities for our service users, we have increasingly developed spaces such as
 The Hub.

This is a space within a selection
 of our homes that charities and community groups can hire for free.
 A space of this nature dovetails Regulation
 10 in so much as it gives our service users
 an opportunity to be more involved with 
the local community, yet there are also 
the safeguarding considerations which are involved in accommodating groups of people that have a level of access to our service users.

As well as having vital spaces to integrate community groups into our home settings, we do, of course, have several rooms to support the rehabilitation of our service users.

We have spaces where a variety of entertainment takes place, as arranged by our care staff, and designated sensory rooms which are adorned with special lighting, have music provision and objects to facilitate recovery.

 

Alongside provision that you would expect, such as sensory and entertainment rooms, our aim to make every day better than the last for our service users has led to us utilising existing spaces in care homes in new ways.

These were ways in which we had never anticipated when we first built or acquired the building, and have the required support and understanding at all levels of the business to make it possible. At Quarryfields in Doncaster, a pop-up shop has been developed for service users with learning disabilities to gain volunteering opportunities.

Service users are involved in all elements of the shop, from handling finances under supervision to meeting coffee suppliers and making the uniforms.

Elsewhere, following feedback a service user provided to his home team, he was accommodated with
 a new room with the relevant facilities and processes to enable his son to stay overnight.

In both examples above, the ability for change empowered not just the service users but the wider organisation to highlight how our physical buildings can be remodelled to provide facilities that not just let our service users survive but thrive.

In addition to our traditional care home settings, we have developed a service called OneCare which provides accommodation
 for service users that allows them to have
 a greater sense of independence.

The development of this service has led to an acquisition of existing properties and the development of new buildings on or near land we already own.

OneCare services are unique to the service user’s needs, so each of the flats and homes are developed separately to cater for individual requirements. 
Examples include a home developed for Simon (name changed to protect his identity), a sufferer of autism who has severe sensory triggers and requires a home which has
no skirting boards, radiators or wallpaper.

Alongside reducing triggering textures, his flat has been developed so that there is a living space upstairs for when he is suffering from intense anxiety as well as the facility for care workers to stop access to the kitchen area for his own safety.

While the space and its facilities are of significant importance, especially in relation to Simon’s triggers, it is the hard work of staff and their role in supporting Simon’s family 
in the process of transitioning his care to an Exemplar home which is key to his quality 
of life.

Without the understanding and desire from the team to not only cater to his needs but also to allow him the opportunity to develop independence through cooking for himself and keeping him safe, the wider structure and technology would not suffice.

It is important for us to remember the development role when considering how care provision is being developed for people with complex needs – it is the right environment and technology combined with the relevant specialist care which can make a difference to service users’ lives.

David Sturrock has worked across the property sector for over 16 years and is overseeing the current expansion of Exemplar’s property portfolio. Guided by the 2010 Equality Act and Building Control, he works to the relevant regulations to develop homes suited to the service users Exemplar cares for. These include adults with complex needs arising from neuro-disability, brain injury and stroke, enduring mental ill-health, autism, learning disability and early-onset dementia.The firm has 26 homes across Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North West.


 

Case study: sensory room is life changing for Ingrid

For several months, Ingrid had been suffering from intense headaches which continued for days without a break. When Ingrid became unable to carry out her day-to-day tasks she was rushed to A&E by her husband and scans carried out in hospital highlighted an aneurism on the brain.

Unfortunately, the aneurism burst before surgery could be carried out and due to its size and impact, Ingrid suffered severe stroke type symptoms, which significantly changed her life.

When Ingrid was admitted to an Exemplar home she was immobile, suffered with poor speech, severe short-term memory loss and very poor cognition and coordination.

The experienced staff in charge of supporting Ingrid worked with family, friends and community therapists to develop a care plan to increase her functional abilities.

The sensory room at the home encouraged Ingrid and paved the way for her recovery in developing her senses using special lighting, music and objects.

Due to her short-term memory loss, Ingrid had initially struggled to come to terms with physio and cognitive therapies. Staff recognised this and worked on a regime of short periods of regular therapy and slowly she blossomed.

As time progressed, Ingrid began reaching
 her goals. She regained movement, speech and most importantly, her independence. Just 18 months after arriving at Exemplar, Ingrid was able to go home to her beloved family – fully mobile.

Almost back to her old self, Ingrid is now completely independent and does not require any further care packages to support her recovery.