New life is being given to the site of a former primary school in an award-winning development of incorporating flexibility to accommodate changing needs.

Wales & West Housing Association (WWHA) has turned the site of a former primary school into its first development to combine both apartments for general needs residents and bespoke bungalows for people with physical and sensory impairment, designed to optimise their independence. The combination of self-contained accommodation with provision of flexible care and support helped it win the North Wales Building Excellence Award Best Social Affordable Housing Development Flintshire.

Key equipment to minimise reliance on carers at the £2m, 19-home Greenfield development include automatic opening doors, electronic hoists, height adjustable basins- and a Closomat Palma ‘wash and dry’ toilet.

Explained Occupational Therapist for the project, Sue Smith (Flintshire County Council), “One of the tenants has complex physical disabilities, and uses a very specialised wheelchair and shower chair. It was vital throughout to make sure the tenants had as much independence as possible- especially when undertaking basic personal hygiene. This tenant had used a Closomat toilet with confidence for many years in his previous home. Due to him now needing a very specialist supportive shower chair for use over the toilet coupled with his confidence in using a Closomat, it was felt the Closomat was the best solution to meet his needs. Because it can also be used as a ‘conventional’ WC, it simultaneously helps us meet another objective of flexible solutions for changing needs and changing residents. ”

Robin Tuffley, marketing manager for Closomat, elaborates, “Going to the toilet is something we all do, and on average eight times a day! If you can’t do that properly, and be assured of being clean afterwards, it has huge psychological and health impacts: it means you have to rely on a carer to help you, affecting your independence, dignity and privacy, and poses hygiene and infection risks.

“In our day-to-day dealings with clients, both users and professionals such as OTs tell us alternatives such as units which bolt on to an existing toilet, just don’t work properly if you use a mobile shower chair. They either can’t manoeuvre the chair accurately over the toilet, or the unit’s douche isn’t at the right angle to effectively clean them. The Closomat is the only ‘wash and dry’ toilet that was developed specifically for disabled people: integration with shower chairs was one of the issues we considered- and addressed- in the design process.”