The team on a recently completed project to construct a development specially designed for people with complex disabilities has been praised for their “outstanding” work – a sentiment echoed by service users in the new accommodation – many of whom have been showing substantial improvement as a result of their new environment.
The development, at Hamilton Lodge in Great Bromley, Colchester, was carried out for Autism Spectrum Partners, which is a division of the Disabilities Trust, who specialise in supporting those with complex disabilities to enjoy as high a quality of life as possible.
Main Contractors were ARJ Construction; Architects were Cound Webber Architects; Employers Agents were Drake & Reynolds.
The scheme, constructed in the Hamilton Lodge grounds, replaces old, outdated accommodation at the Victorian Holme Oak building, located within the same grounds and supporting younger people who are on the autism spectrum or show behaviours that indicate autism.
Geared to creating a much more domestic environment, avoiding any institutional overtones and fostering a sense of independence for the service users, the project comprised the construction of four bungalows, each incorporating four self contained studio flats, as well as communal facilities. Each studio has its own kitchen area, sitting area and bedroom area, with ensuite bathroom, as well as french doors leading onto a private patio to the rear.
Communal facilities within each building include a lounge and a ‘study’ containing a computer with internet connection for use by both residents and staff. Two of the bungalows also have provision for staff to sleep overnight and one of the bungalows has been designed to suit the needs of wheelchair users and incorporates features including variable height worktops and cookers and also has a roof designed to allow the retrospective installation of a hoist to assist less mobile service users, if needed, at a future date.
The bungalows are constructed with brick external elevations with render features, powder coated aluminium framed windows orientated to provide interesting external views, and pitched tiled roofing. External works include the creation of patios to the rear. Space has also been allocated to enable each individual to create their own garden, if they wish.
The project was highly commended by a delighted Mr Mike McPeake of the Disabilities Trust. “We are very proud of the scheme. The contract team and architects on the project were outstanding. We have worked with ARJ Construction on previous projects and were always extremely pleased with the quality of their workmanship – plus they are now familiar the needs of those we support. Similarly we have also worked very successfully with Norman Webber of Cound Webber Architects on a number of schemes including a hospital, a residential service and numerous smaller projects, so they are also able work well with us in providing for people with disabilities” he said.
“Since our service users moved into the accommodation just a few weeks ago, we have already seen significant improvements. Autism is a complex condition with 3 key areas of differences which can affect the lives of those with the condition; communication skills, social interaction and flexibility of thought, so it is important that they have their own space and can take a measure of control over their own lives. For example, those who have previously been withdrawn have suddenly started speaking again, engaging more and being more outgoing which is probably one of the most dramatic examples” he added.
Hamilton Lodge offers accommodation and support services to adults who are on the autism spectrum or show behaviours that indicate autism. We also support people who have a learning disability.
Since April 2004, the services at Hamilton Lodge have become the responsibility of The Disabilities Trust, who will work in partnership with Essex Social Services and other funding bodies and regulatory bodies to increase the range of services still further.
The philosophy of the Trust is to provide each individual with the best possible quality of life compatible with their health, age and ability. Personal empowerment is essential to this process. The Trust’s approach is to respect the individual; to develop their staff, to maintain contact with families and establish a varied programme of leisure activities.
ARJ Construction Ltd is a privately owned construction company based in Hertfordshire with national coverage.
ARJ is an innovative company committed to providing a high quality service, based on first class workmanship with a clear understanding of client’s needs.