The future looks bright for West Yorkshire residents living with special needs, thanks to the completion of three new accommodation blocks in Mirfield.
The Meadows development was designed to cater for children and young adults with profound special needs and the new buildings will now house twenty-four young adults and six children.
Completed in October 2011, the project was carried out by Main Contractors Triton Construction for the Hollybank Trust.
The units were built using load bearing construction, with external elevations in a combination of reconstituted stone and cedar cladding. This incorporated wooden framed windows and roofing was completed with a mixture of cladding and Sedum.
Each of the units was specifically designed to meet the needs of its occupants and has incorporated special features, including extra wide doors intended for wheelchair access.
The construction of the three units comprised building two residential units for young adults, featuring twelve en-suite bedrooms. The third unit built is a six-bedroom respite care unit designed especially for children.
Arranged in the shape of a letter ‘W’, each of the two young adult units is divided by a central area containing a reception, a large lounge and staff offices. Two wings on either side of each unit contain a kitchen, small lounge, assisted bathroom and six en-suite bedrooms.
The smaller respite care unit for children is designed in a ‘V’ shape and incorporates a large lounge, an assisted bathroom, a small private lounge and six en-suite bedrooms.
Interior design work – including picking colour schemes for carpets, curtains and soft furnishings – was determined by the children and young adults who occupy the buildings.
External works on the site have included top-soiling and seeding of new garden areas around the buildings. The detailed landscaping is scheduled for a later date.
A significant challenge that was overcome early in the project was the discovery of three mine shafts on the site, which required grouting and capping before work could continue.
Triton Construction’s Paul Halloran said: “The project went very well and the only main issue was the discovery of the mineshafts which were not revealed in searches carried out prior to the contract.”
He added: “However, this was the second project we carried out for the trust, with the first being in south Kirkby in 2009, so this allowed us to learn from previous experience.”
Hollybank Trust has been based in Mirfield for 21 years and is now recognised as a leading centre for the care of both adults and children with complex disabilities.
Services provided by the trust have changed almost beyond recognition over this time, as the number of people with complex disabilities has risen.
As well as looking after the residents’ complex medical and lifestyle needs, the trust – which employs 500 staff – also strives to provide the best quality of life they can. Experienced team members include speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists.
The Trust’s resources include a hydro-therapy pool with sensory lighting and sound, a spa pool and an activity hall, set up with a trampoline for rebound therapy.
Alison Howard, head of residential services at Hollybank, said: “We have really pushed to become a care facility for life. In the past there were cases where 19-year-olds with profound disabilities were leaving school and being placed into an old people’s home or nursing home.
“You can’t believe it but it still happens in some areas. We couldn’t let that sort of thing keep happening.”
With growing demand for quality care for complex needs, it is now a school and care home provider for 102 children and adults who all have the choice to be looked after 24-hours-a-day, 52-weeks-a-year for the rest of their lives.
The majority of the children and young people at Hollybank School are dependent for everyday support from the school, including communication, mobility and well-being. All have severe disabilities, with many in wheelchairs, and some have life-shortening conditions.
The completion of the three new units will continue to strengthen Hollybank Trust’s portfolio, so that those living with profound special needs will be offered the support that they require for years to come.