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Care home transformed for learning disabled adults

The simple – but significant – creation of a brand-new doorway has transformed life beyond recognition at one of national learning disability charity Hft’s Bedfordshire services, by literally bringing people together, where before they were apart.

Before the doorway existed, people supported at the home lived in one of two separate areas of the service in Shefford – Oncemore or Applewood – and would have to don their outdoor gear to see those on the other side of the house. This had proved a real barrier, especially if the weather was bad, and for those needing a wheelchair or walking aid to move around safely.

Now, the new thoroughfare has made life a lot easier for colleagues and supported people alike to come together – changing habits and allowing everyone to branch out and build relationships with others across the Shefford service.

Registered Care Home Manager, Claire Davies-Sond, said:

 “It has already made such a difference and has meant a real positive change to the people we support, and for our team, who can see it for themselves.

“For one lady, who often finds crowds daunting, the new door meant she could peer through the window to watch our staff panto, in her own space, when we held it before Christmas.

“We’ve seen people in Oncemore newly able to visit friends in Applewood, and vice versa, just by opening an internal door, instead of having to put on their hat, coat and gloves to go outside to access the other side of their house. They can just pop over to see their friend in their pyjamas if they want to!

“It’s been so nice to see people able to alternate between kitchen and lounges, just because they can. Whether it’s to see or smell what others are cooking for tea; to check for custard because the other fridge doesn’t have any; or for a change of scenery, and to sit somewhere else.”

And the impact of the new doorway – which was made possible through fundraising – has been just as significant for Hft colleagues.

Claire said: 

“They now feel part of one house, are better able to communicate, and can locate each other more quickly without having to go outside in all weathers, and the dark. Best of all for them is seeing people we support now able to access every part of their home, giving them more choice, independence and freedom.

“To come to work each morning and see people making the most of this is such a pleasure. Who’d have thought one simple door could achieve all of this – but it has!”