Centre-stage for learning disabilities

People with learning disabilities will get more support to live within the local community thanks to the major makeover of a Liverpool care hub.

Work has begun this week on the transformation of Besford House, a Learning Disability facility in Belle Vale.

Liverpool City Council and NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) successfully bid to the Department of Health for £850,000 to create the modern accommodation for people with autism and learning difficulties.

The investment will mean a complete refurbishment for the 16 bed centre, including decorating, new carpets and flooring, new bathroom suites, kitchens and furniture.

But the transformation is about much more than upgrading the fixtures and fittings.

The centre will become a model for ‘step up, step down’ care. This means it will allow people to ‘step down’ from a hospital setting when they are ready to live more independent lives. At the same time it will allow people already living within the community to ‘step up’ into the facility should they need more support.

Once the work is completed, Besford House will help to free up valuable hospital beds, relieving some of the pressures facing the NHS and cutting costs.

The council and CCG have joined forces with city-based social care charity Alternative Futures Group (AFG), who will run the centre and provide a range of services for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

Besford House consists of three bungalows, have previously used for short-term accommodation and respite.

AFG has been involved in the design of the new centre to help create a layout that is tailor-made for the people who will use the service. Crucially, the views of service users and their families have been taken into account as well.

A report to the city council’s Cabinet says of the plans: “The aim of the scheme is to ensure that local needs are met and that the site is an integral part of the local community. Those that live and work in the area are familiar with people that have used the service and this will help us to deliver effective and safe care in the community for future service users.”

The improvements are part of a much larger £30 million plan to transform adult social care services in Liverpool, which also includes three new dementia care centres.

If all goes according to plan, the new-look Besford House will be open for business in September.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr Paul Brant, said: “The improvements at Besford House will provide a state-of-the-art new centre for people with learning disabilities. The facility will be pivotal in allowing people to retain as much independence as they possibly can whilst still receiving the support they need.”

“We are looking forward to working with Alternative Futures to see this exciting new centre take shape.”

AFG Regional Director Kathy Farmer said: “We’re delighted to be working closely with Liverpool City Council on Besford House. It’s an example of the way that AFG is working innovatively in the community to provide a wide range of leading-edge and bespoke care services delivering life-enhancing person-centred support to people with a diverse range of care needs.”

“Our services focus on personalised support – tailoring services to the needs and aspirations of each individual – supporting them to lead the lives they want as active citizens in their communities.”

While Jane Lunt, who is Chief Nurse at NHS Liverpool CCG added: “Providing the best quality care possible lies at the heart of everything we do, and this new centre will allow us to do exactly that. It aligns with the aims of our local Transforming Care programme and will give our service-users greater choice and flexibility about the type of support they receive, allowing people to retain or work towards their independence whilst having the reassurance that support is always there when they need it.”

Liverpool Waterfront