Thornfield Grange, our specialist autism residential service in Bishop Auckland, has joined forces with their local B&Q to help create an autism-friendly environment. The service supports people with autism to live as independently as possible within their community, and helps them to develop the service to suit their own needs.
The people supported at the service along with the care team wanted to improve some of the living areas. They formed a working party and enlisted the help of their local B&Q.
Manager Tracy Fee explained, “We knew we wanted to improve our lounge area and wanted to make sure we were creating a calming, autism-friendly environment. We helped the people we support to choose which colour they preferred. We worked with the paint representative at B&Q who put together four sets of colours which are non-arousal and autism-friendly. They receive training to do this and it was great to know we were working from a palette which was best suited for the needs of those we support.
“To make sure the room is as calming as possible and meets people’s sensory needs, we have added specialist blinds and mood lighting. We wanted to make sure the room was homely as well as being as accessible as possible for the people we support.”
It is just one of a series of improvements which have been made at Thornfield Grange. Again, led by the people supported there, a previously unused area has been turned into a small and welcoming “snug” area with comfy chairs and TV, with all décor and furnishing having been chosen by service users.
Tracy said, “This has been a specific project to create an area away from the main lounge which is quieter and less stimulating. It was the idea of one of the people we support and he presented his idea, along with costings to us and we thought it was a fantastic way to use a space which was not being used currently to create something people could really enjoy.”
The team at Thornfield Grange are also currently improving the garden area, again supported by B&Q, who have donated bark and gravel. The area will be a sensory garden including scented plants.
Tracy said, “We can’t thank B&Q enough for their generous support. It’s very much appreciated by everyone here at Thornfield Grange and is helping us improve the environment for the people we support.”