AS the number of people with complex disabilities increases, one care provider in Mirfield is pushing boundaries and adapting to meet current needs.
Tomorrow will see the latest in a line of pioneering moves by the Hollybank Trust in Mirfield, as it officially opens its new accommodation blocks, The Meadows, to house 24 adults and six children with profound disabilities.
Paula Lane, who plays Kylie Platt in Coronation Street, and used to be a student at Huddersfield Technical College, will be at the Roe Head site to open the new facilities.
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 the years, as the number of people with complex disabilities rises due to increasing survival rates of children who are born prematurely or suffer severe illness.
Back in 1990, Hollybank moved to Roe Head from Holly Bank Road in Lindley and was a day and residential school caring for 28 disabled children.
But 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 totally dependent for everyday support including communication, mobility and well-being, and many are in wheelchairs. All have severe disabilities and some have life-shortening conditions.
There is no other service in the country like it and staff are very proud of their mission: “Quality of life ... for life”.
Hightown woman Alison Howard, who is head of residential services at Hollybank, said: “We 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.”
The trust’s Bradbury Centre has a hydro-therapy pool with sensory lighting and sound, a spa pool and a dry activity hall which is set up with a trampoline for rebound therapy.
There are also speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists on hand to help the pupils to develop functional communication, along with support to help them eat and drink safely and comfortably.
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.
At the school, on Far Common Road, the pupils can access personal leisure interests such as music, drama, craftwork and computing as well as the more traditional lessons.
And the use of SMART technology means they can work independently from teachers and take ownership of their own learning.
Creative pupils can make art by using Hollybank’s iMUSE – an interactive music streaming engine – which enables them to produce abstract pictures through sound and movement.