Designed and developed with help from local family carers, North Tyneside Council has created Queensbridge Respite Centre in Longbenton to offer specialist respite accommodation for adults with a learning disability.
The new facility completes a wider £2m council project that has also seen a specialist bungalow and a terrace of seven affordable homes all built in the same area.
And today (October 18), North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn will visit the respite centre, meet with families and officially open the building.
Ahead of the event, Mayor Redfearn said: “I am delighted we have been able to provide this much-needed respite centre and redevelop the area as part of our multimillion pound investment work across the borough.
“I must thank all the carers who helped us to get Queensbridge Respite just right. When developing specialist housing or facilities, it is important that we work with those who will with use them, or their families and carers, to make sure it’s exactly what they need and want.
“The respite facility provides the opportunity to have an enjoyable break, socialise and take part in different activities that someone might not normally have the chance to do – all whist receiving support from a fully-trained, caring and approachable member of staff.
“It also means their family carer is able to have a break too. Carers do a truly remarkable job and we do all we can in North Tyneside to make sure they receive the help they need. Part of this support is giving them the opportunity to have some time to themselves, safe in the knowledge that the person they look after is receiving the very best care and support.”
The facility includes a communal lounge and dining area, a kitchen, laundry, and three bathrooms with an adjustable bath and two walk-in showers to cater for all needs and preferences.
Ceiling hoists and tracks have been fitted in all bedrooms, as well as in the living and dining room, to support people with a physical disability.
There’s also a unit with its own bedroom, living room and dining area for those who prefer to be alone, and when not in use it also provides a quiet space and sensory room for others to use.
And a large and easy accessible landscaped garden, complete with sitting areas and raised flower and herb beds, also offers an outside space for people to socialise and relax in.
Heather Riley and her husband Richard care for their 30-year-old daughter, Helen. Heather is part of a group of family carers who work with the council to help to improve disability services in North Tyneside.
The steering group was heavily involved in the development and design of Queensbridge Respite Centre.
Speaking on behalf of the group Heather said: “We are very happy with the centre and having such an input into its design means it really suits the needs of the people who use it.
“It’s very spacious which makes it much easier for those in a wheelchair to move around, but from my point of view, one of the most important things is that the centre is owned by the council so we know it will be looked after and respite care will continue.
“My daughter has been to stay already and loved it; she laughed throughout her stay and wasn’t fazed about being in a new place. It also meant my husband and I were able to have a short break ourselves and visit our other daughter at her home in Gibraltar.”
The centre is on the site of the former Somervyl Court sheltered accommodation building, which has been replaced as part another council-led house building project. The £300m North Tyneside Living project will see more than 920 modern, independent living homes for people aged over 60 created at 26 locations across the borough, by 2017.
Cllr John Harrison, cabinet member for Housing and Transport, said: “We are investing heavily in housing across North Tyneside by building the types of homes we need as well as investing in our existing properties.
“Demand for affordable homes continues to rise in the borough, which is why we’ve made a commitment to create 3,000 more with help from our partners, and the different type of housing at this development in Longbenton reflects the broad range of requirements we have in North Tyneside.
“We have worked closely with the local community to plan this scheme, ensuring we’re putting the right homes in the right places.”
The facility was built by Kier North Tyneside and is operated by Flexible Support Options Limited, both on behalf of the council.
Kier regional director, Mike Furze, said: “We are proud to have delivered a bespoke project, designed specifically with residents and their families in mind that will provide respite accommodation for adults with specialist care needs.
“By working in partnership with our colleagues at North Tyneside Council on their affordable homes programme, we are making a real difference to improving the quality of housing for residents across the borough, and Queensbridge Respite Centre highlights the value of this collaborative approach.”
Sharon Robe, Operational Manager for Flexible Support Options Limited, added “It has been a great opportunity for Flexible Support Options to work with North Tyneside Council, Kier and families in the design of the building to ensure that individuals who use the service have everything that they need for an enjoyable stay with us. All of the individuals who have had a break at the new building love it and we have had a very successful transition. We are all very excited for the future.”
For more information about the centre and the services it offers, call (0191) 643 7885.