New specialist accommodation in Preston for profoundly deaf people will reduce their risk of isolation and ensure they are cared for by people who understand their needs.Advertisement
That was the message from the boss of the city’s Deafway charity after the organisation was told that it had been granted planning permission to create new facilities at its base on Brockholes Brow.
Teresa Dawson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there was currently a waiting list of people who needed ground floor accommodation – a requirement that would be fulfilled by the now approved plans.
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At the moment, the charity has the capacity to house 34 deaf people across the four residential properties that exist on the 100-year-old plot.
However, all of its residents also have additional needs – many of them mental health problems, but also a range of physical disabilities.
Deafway has now been given the green light by Preston City Council planners to convert an existing conference centre facility into four new bedrooms for those whose needs mean that they have to live at ground floor level. One of the rooms will also be designed especially to accommodate a bariatric – or particularly obese – resident.
Teresa – Deafway’s chief executive officer – said that the new dwellings will have wet rooms and patios that open out onto a lawned area which the new occupants can enjoy.
She also explained how deaf people were disadvantaged by living in the “wrong type of accommodation”.
“At the moment, they can’t get anywhere else, so they are left in mainstream residential or nursing homes – and they can be really isolated because they are unable to communicate with the staff, who don’t have signing skills.
“So it’s really important in terms of reducing people’s isolation to have them accommodated within their own cultural community, where there is a deaf culture and deaf identity.
“Here, they can communicate with other residents and also staff, who can recognise what their needs are rather than having to try and guess,” Teresa said.
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She added that a nationwide lack of specialist accommodation like that offered at Deafway meant that many of its residents came from beyond Lancashire’s borders – and that for many it would be “a home for life”.
“With some of our younger residents who maybe don’t have such complex needs, we will support them to [move towards] independence and get their own home in the community. But the majority tend to be older and of greater complexity, so will remain at Deafway.”
Teresa said that the profoundly deaf community was getting smaller because of the number of younger people now receiving cochlear implants – which can enable some level of hearing – but said that sign language and specialist care was still vital for those whose circumstances demanded it.
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