Inclusive Design Magazine Jan/Feb 2024

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How Wrexham AFC have embraced accessibility and inclusion + Kitchens + Bathrooms + Landscaping + HVAC + FF&E + Security + Assistive Technology

Group Enjoy safe, easy bathing with an accessible bathroom Specialists in bathroom adaptations for the elderly and disabled Start to finish you are in safe hands with our employed installation team Our easy-access walk-in showers, assisted bathing, wheelchair -friendly wetrooms and comfort-height toilets are installed quickly and safely by our own dedicated team. We will manage the changes from concept to completion. Bespoke services to suit your needs Helpful, friendly and caring team Fully employed installation teams Nationwide service

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KITCHEN CASE STUDY How a stylish accessible kitchen from The Symphony Group has given a client the hub of the home she really wanted, and rediscovered her love of cooking

Kerry Evans, the Disability Liaison Officer of Wrexham AFC, explains how the club ensures that its disabled fans can fully enjoy the matchday experience



KITCHEN DESIGN Stuart Reynolds of AKW discusses what installers, designers and specifiers need to remember when designing a kitchen with wheelchair accessibility in mind



Moffat Makomo, member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, explains how he is transforming Trafford classrooms


Sector specialists discuss accessible and inclusive play equipment, and how to increase its specification at public playgrounds

“The need for accessible homes is not just about convenience; it’s a critical factor in the well-being of residents with disabilities”



Steve Welsh, Director of Holistic Thinking Holidays Ltd., lets us share one of his busiest periods…


FIRE SAFETY Darren Franks of Globex Evacuation asks if enough is being done to ensure the safe evacuation of mobility-impaired persons from buildings?


Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, says that we need a long-term vision for social housing


THE CARE SHOW, 24th & 25th April, ExceL London. Celebrating the voice of care and providing informative positive takeaways


Steve Catlin asks “if a business knew of half a million potential customers, plus their friends and families, wouldn’t you think they’d want to know how to attract them?”


NAIDEX, 20th & 21st March, NEC Birmingham. A celebration of diversity, innovation, and empowerment


Everyone should be able to use and enjoy their kitchen. This is why we created Freedom, to provide attractive, accessible and empowering kitchens. Freedom has been developed alongside leading experts and designed to comply with building regulations (ADM) and the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide. Contact us to find out how we can help. Call: 01226 446322

TRUST Find out more at




SUBSCRIPTIONS To receive your copy visit: or email

“Why don't commercial developers design for disability?”


s editor of Inclusive Design Magazine I frequently receive emails from PRs who send me details about their clients’ newly launched hotel or apartment developments. These are often huge schemes with hundreds of units. As I’m always looking for great case studies to share with you readers, I reply to these asking for further details about the hotel’s accessible bedrooms and amenities, or how many apartments have been designed with adjustable height kitchen units, or level access bathrooms. In the case of hotels there are some, but almost always lacking in ceiling hoists, which mean that many people would not be able to book a room, regardless of how good the rest of the hotel is. Places like the Brooklyn in Manchester have shown that the ceiling track can be made into a great design feature, so it’s not a matter of aesthetics is it? See what Steve Catlin of the Ceiling Hoist users Community (CHuC) has to say about this in The Last Word on p50.

And the apartment complexes? Well, after the initial “Oooh, I’ll ask the client…” they come back with a sheepish response about them being adaptable if the buyer wishes. But that would mean removing the already installed brand-new equipment, which is costly and wasteful. Given the numbers of people who need to make adaptations to their home, why are new builds not pre-empting this and having some ready to move in to, giving everybody a choice when looking for a new home? They WILL sell! Sometimes there are very simple tweaks to the design that make a place more accessible; this does not disadvantage other users, it literally opens up its use to far more people. What do you think? Get in touch.

Juliet Juliet Davies, Editor

Join the debate: E IncDesMagUK D IncDesMagUK C inclusive-design-magazine

CONTRIBUTORS Cover image courtesy of Wrexham AFC

Please send any comments to the editor by email to the address above Published by Blue Beetle Media Ltd Terms and conditions: Please note that points of view expressed in articles by contributing writers and in advertisements included in this journal do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the journal, no legal responsibility will be accepted by the publishers for loss arising from use of information published. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publishers. Printed in the UK using only paper from FSC/PEFC suppliers

ISSN 2976-8888 Copyright © Blue Beetle Media 2024

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Steve aka ‘The Caravan Man’ is co-owner of Holistic Thinking Holidays, who provide accessible and affordable coastal family holidays, across the UK.

Gabrielle Neary is a Playground Design Specialist working with ESP PLAY Parks, who design, manufacture and install inclusive and accessible play equipment.

GADGET: Soundcore Flash portable speaker, or any speaker for that matter, for blasting out tunes on the move!

GADGET: My MacBook is an extension of my creative arm, plus it fits conveniently into my handbag.

PASTIME: Live music, from small local venues to larger festivals, particularly Punk, Ska and 80s.

PASTIME: Cooking is my way to wind down after work, my house is filled with cookbooks and my cookware collection.





EFFORT The success of Wrexham Association Football Club has recently put the north Wales town on the international map, and the club has been working hard to ensure that its disabled fans can fully enjoy the matchday experience. 6


he STōK Cae Ras is the world’s oldest international football stadium still in continuous use, having hosted Wales’ first ever international home game against Scotland on 5th March 1877. The stadium’s history can be traced back much further, with horse racing recorded at the Racecourse possibly even 400 years ago. With a capacity of 12,500 for sport, and 21,000 for music, the stadium sits alongside one of the main approaches to the town. Kerry Evans is the Disability Liaison Officer at Wrexham AFC after taking the role in March 2022 on a full-time basis, and explained the facilities. “The STōK Cae Ras houses wheelchairaccessible viewing platforms in all of our stands, including on the new temporary Kop structure. The permanent platforms are in the Macron Stand (opened in 2015, with six spaces); the STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand (opened in 2021 by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds following the refurbishment of the stand) and a two-tiered structure in the Wrexham Lager


Left: Kerry Evans has been the club’s Disability Liaison Officer since 2022


Images courtesy of Wrexham AFC


Below: The STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand was opened in 2021 by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds following the refurbishment

Stand, for use by away supporters with a lift included, which was opened in 2022.” Access to the platform is via the reception entrance to the Macron Stand where there is a lift to gain access to the platform. There is a pitch-level platform available, with four wheelchair spaces and provision for companions beside the STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand. There is another accessible platform in the away end of the Wrexham Lager Stand, with space for companions. A refreshment area with low level counter is by the gate 12 entrance and in the middle of the concourse there is a

further refreshment area with both higher & lowered counters for easy access, all with steward assistance. The STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand concourse also features lowered counters throughout. “We also offer a waitress service to all wheelchair users, meaning you can order food or drinks pitchside,” added Kerry. Wrexham AFC also became an official Autism-Friendly Football Stadium in 2018, and revamped their sensory room for the 2021/22 season. “We were the first Football Club in Wales - and indeed, first business - to receive the Autism Friendly Award, which was renewed in 2023,” said Kerry. “The sensory room is located behind our autism-friendly quiet zone, offering a space for supporters to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the concourse and stand.” Wrexham were the first club in the UK to do an autism friendly football game, which was arranged by their Disabled Supporter Association. “So,” said Kerry, “when I took my position, I asked the question why we couldn’t make this possible for every fixture during the season. So, I worked closely with our Wrexham branch of National Autistic Society to put things needed in place. I was aware of families who felt they couldn’t attend Wrexham AFC because their children wouldn’t cope sat amongst the crowd in the stand, so it became a passion to do something to help. “We put in place an accessible double doorway entrance, so that fans using this area don’t have to access a turnstile, we have a quieter route to the Quiet Zone. We then have dedicated match day stewards, who work the area every match day helping with familiarisation. “The waitress service was added as we realise people sat in this area cannot go and queue at concourse areas for refreshments, plus we offer ear defenders, blankets, waterproof ponchos, weighted teddies/blankets for security and comfort, available for both home and away supporters, free of charge.” The sensory room has recently been upgraded with new decoration and new equipment. Improvements include a new mural of the Mold Road Stand, painted by local artist Ellie Humphreys. Donations from local companies, and volunteer work has also contributed to the huge upgrade of the room. Kerry Roberts, manager of the Wrexham Branch of the National Autistic Society, has donated a bubble fish lamp, while WREXRENT have donated an LED light-up sensory board. The room also boasts sensory toys, a tv, books, bean bags and lights, with each item chosen specifically to benefit different users of the room.



“A WAITRESS SERVICE FOR ALL WHEELCHAIR USERS MEANS THEY CAN ORDER FOOD OR DRINKS PITCHSIDE” KERRY EVANS, DISABILITY LIAISON OFFICER, WREXHAM AFC If any travelling supporters feel they would benefit from sitting in the quiet zone with their families then they can request this. There is a designated quiet entrance, at

gate 12 on the Mold Road. Users can enter the Macron Stand through this gate and proceed straight to the concrete entrance towards the pitch in order to avoid the busy concourse. The waitress service taking food and drink orders pitchside means that fans don’t need to enter the busy concourse. Wrexham AFC have both female and male stewards designated to the area to chat and support the people sitting there. “We have welcomed far more fans into Wrexham AFC due to the autism friendly facilities,” said Kerry. “These are fans who prior to this area being in place would not have been able to attend a live football match at Wrexham. “Wrexham AFC is still very much in the minority for offering these facilities, as most clubs don’t offer this, so we are immensely proud of this area, and how much of a difference it’s made. We regularly get emails from parents thanking us, because the fact they can attend as a family in a safe welcoming environment with no judgment and that is incredible for some people.

Above: The STōK Cae Ras has a capacity of 12,500 for sport, and 21,000 for music Left: Viewing platforms have waitress service for food and drinks



“We have lots of amazing feedback, I had a Dad tell me at the end of last season that we had given his father-son relationship back to him, because they had grown a bond that had been lacking prior to attending our Quiet Zone.” And their support for fans goes beyond league matchdays. The Club Shop offers a sensory hour each Wednesday from 4pm-5pm, providing a quieter shopping experience, targeted specifically at supporters with sensory issues. Signs are put in place to remind customers, and staff will be on hand to ensure a quieter shopping hour while lights will also be dimmed in store to cater for visitors. During the season Wrexham AFC also offer quiet walkabout sessions, where they invite anybody with sensory issues into the stadium while it is closed to the public, as an opportunity to get to know the stadium and learn more about what to expect when visiting in readiness for a matchday. “We hold autism-friendly football sessions for both primary age and secondary age children in all half-term holidays and summer holidays,” Kerry told us. “The sessions take place on a Monday for secondary age children, and a Wednesday for primary age children at the Wrexham Glyndwr University sports hall, run by our Wrexham Community Trust staff.” A hearing loop is available in the Club Shop and in the Centenary Club at the bar. The 1864 Suite and Bamford’s Suite feature hearing room loops for all hospitality guests in these areas. The stadium has a free Audio Descriptive Commentary service run by the Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association (DSA), for both home and away supporters, that is available at all home games, where blind and partially sighted people can hear a descriptive commentary of the game. All they need to do is bring their own headphones or earphones to use in a device, which can be

Right: Wrex the Dragon, the club mascot Below: Future plans for the stadium include a Changing Places toilet

“THE SENSORY ROOM HAS RECENTLY BEEN UPGRADED WITH NEW DECORATION AND NEW EQUIPMENT” KERRY EVANS, DISABILITY LIAISON OFFICER, WREXHAM AFC collected in advance of the game. Wrexham AFC offer an audio match day programme for blind and partially sighted people, which is available to all subscribers of the new WrexhamPlayer platform on the club website. Read by former Dragon Heart host Kingsley Evans, the audio programme includes all the main features of the main match-day programme, as well as an exclusive weekly interview. Braille signage is also available throughout, and the Club offers audiodescriptive commentary for match-day attendees. For those driving to the game, matchday Blue Badge parking is available in the University car park next to the ground. There are two accessible toilets in the Macron Stand concourse, one as you enter via gate 12 and one the opposite end of the

concourse with alarm cords in place. There is also an accessible toilet on Floor 1 of the 1864 Suite, inside, which can be accessed via the Macron Stand lift for anybody using the suite or the accessible viewing platform. A new accessible toilet is now available on the concourse of the STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand, while supporters in the Wrexham Lager Stand can use the accessible toilet located within the Centenary Club. The Wrexham Supporters Association have made a generous £10,000 donation towards a new Changing Places toilet which is among future planned improvements at the stadium. This will be fully accessible and extra equipment will include a hoist, a changing bench, a curtain or screen, and non-slip flooring. Other ground improvements designed to boost accessibility include a painting project, with steps at the stadium all painted yellow and high-contrast (red/ white) painting in the toilet blocks. Wrexham AFC have an ongoing dementia-friendly project at the STōK Cae Ras, especially recommending their Macron Stand, as the most dementia-friendly, where they have painted all toilet facilities in highcontrast colours, and all steps in yellow paint with a non-slip element and nosing. “I am very proud of my role as Disability Liaison Officer at Wrexham AFC,” said Kerry. “It’s an absolute pleasure to be making a difference to the fan experience of disabled fans, and giving them the best match day experience with no barriers at Wrexham AFC.” ID


For more information visit: 9

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The Care Show is coming to London in 2024 Join us in the capital for the Care Show London! You can expect the same inspiring and forward-thinking experience that you get at the Care Show Birmingham.

24-25 April 2024 ExCeL London

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Join the conversation: #CareShowLondon24 @CareShow


Register your interest!

Scan the QR code or visit /Care-Show

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SHARE YOUR VOICE A new year has come by bringing with it new learning opportunities, policy updates and a renewed commitment to making social care better. And where better to do this than at the Care Show London, surrounded by a contagious feel-good energy and thousands of care professionals sharing the same passion?

Some session highlights you will find this spring are: The New Single-Assessment Framework: Making It Work For You & Your Organisation (Care Keynote Theatre) • J ulie Rayner, Care Quality, Governance and Compliance Director for Hallmark Care Homes • L isa James, Homecare Registered Manager at Kingsway Care • L ouie Werth, Director of Care Research • J onathan Cunningham, Chair and Founder of Care Manager's Inner Circle The Future Workforce: Inspiring the Next Generation to Choose Careers in Care (People, Workforce & Wellbeing Theatre)

The Care Show London, taking place at ExCeL on 24th & 25th April 2024, brings a conference programme that reflects on the needs of all care professionals, regardless of where they are in their careers. For the spring 2024 event, there is a big focus on celebrating the voice of care and providing informative positive takeaways for all attendees. When creating the programme, the content team worked closely with an advisory board to ensure all the sessions achieved a high standard of educational quality and provided a comprehensive approach to all areas of social care. The different subjects are delivered across six theatres, with the main and most pressing topics taking place in the Care Keynote Theatre, and there are dedicated areas for technology learning, business development, and all topics related to the workforce. In addition to the theatres, you will find two other designated learning spaces, with content provided and delivered by the Care Show’s educational partners, The Outstanding Society and the Care Providers’ Voice.

• S adie Torres, Project Learning Coordinator with Guided Innovation • A lex Ball, Operations Manager at Stow Healthcare • M egan Knight, Carer at Caroline Care for You Ltd • T homas Vaughan, Registered Manager at Tamworth Home Care

REGISTER NOW Come and meet with 150+ leading suppliers, explore the latest products and services for the sector, and find other care professionals to network and collaborate with. If you are a care or healthcare professional, you can register for a complimentary pass now and secure your place for the biggest celebration of care in the nation’s capital at

The Fundamentals of Selling to SelfFunders in 2024 (Business Theatre) • C arl Roberts, Associate Sales and Marketing Director of Boutique Care Homes • L isa Vile, Sales and Hospitality Manager at Athena Care Homes Ltd • V icki Pickering, Head of Sales at Hallmark Care Homes Meeting the Call for New CQC Evidence: A Tech Shopping List (Technology Theatre) • G eraint Thomas, Technology Transformation Partner at Guided Innovation

You can view the full conference programme at 11




Everyone should be able to use and enjoy their kitchen, which is why The Symphony Group have teamed up with the UK’s leading accessible kitchen designer Adam Thomas, to create an innovative collection of stylish kitchens designed to support independent living.


or Sheila Dearns, a former language teacher for 32 years, living with MS meant that as her condition progressed, she found her kitchen illequipped to cope with her changing needs. Sheila’s home is a bungalow in the centre of Chelmsford, where she has lived since 1996. It was when her MS began to leave her with little energy that Sheila decided to retire in 2010, and since then she is finding it harder to ‘load bear’ and now classes herself as a full-time wheelchair user. It was when Sheila was left an inheritance from a relative that she began to consider making some practical changes to her home. The former kitchen was narrow with no accessible workspace to prepare meals. In fact, Sheila had to chop vegetables on the dining room table instead. With little energy and as a full-time wheelchair user, Sheila needed something to change in order for her to continue living independently at home. Her friend’s sister, Teresa Shaw, who owns Onyx Rehabilitation Ltd., a company that helps people with life-changing injuries, put Sheila in touch with leading designer of accessible kitchens Adam Thomas of the Adam Thomas Consultancy. It’s thanks to Adam’s input and collaboration that Freedom by Symphony have transformed the lives of so many people by empowering them with a sense of independence, enjoying accessible kitchens that are both practical to use and stylish to look at.


Above: Sheila shows off her kitchen to Adam Thomas. Hairpin legs on the dining table are height adjustable for wheelchair access underneath Opposite: Le Mans storage means corner cupboards are accessible. I-move pull down baskets allow Sheila to access top shelves in wall cabinets

Adam worked with kitchen retailer Blaines Interiors to create an accessible kitchen for Sheila that now works as the hub of her home. The project began by knocking down the wall between the former kitchen and living room to create one larger, open-plan space. Sheila moved out while the work was being done and the result is a fully wheelchair-friendly area with widened access to the garden too. “Working with Blaines, we designed a fully functional and accessible kitchen,” explained Adam, “which now includes I-move pull down baskets, allowing Sheila to access top shelves in wall cabinets



without standing up from a seated position along with a 2.4m Rise & Fall worktop, a lovely feature that Sheila can adjust to suit her height so that she can use the worktop, sink with front access tap, and hob when seated in her wheelchair. “It’s a really flexible solution, as it can also be used by family and friends in the rise position. We also included a lowered dining table on hairpin legs for wheelchair access underneath, a pull and twist larder for easy access to dried ingredients, corner Le Mans storage and a combination oven, which suits Sheila’s style of cooking.”



Above: The pull and twist larder allows easy access to dried ingredients

Sheila and Adam worked closely with Anthony Elsey from Blaines Interiors, who was a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas. Sheila wanted her kitchen to be calm and soothing with a brightly tiled splashback to add a statement look. “As a one-stop shop, Blaines takes clients on a seamless journey from conception to completion,” Anthony told us. “This includes personalised consultation, expert advice, meticulous planning, flawless installation and the final finishing touches. “Our team of designers are not only creative but also empathetic and supportive, ensuring that every client’s needs are met. They take pride in designing kitchens that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also affordable and accessible to all.” Design manager Anthony has experience in working with young people and adults with special educational needs and disabilities and is fully committed to serving Freedom clients by creating fully functional and accessible kitchens. Blaines Interiors has two Freedom showrooms with four operational displays, where customers can explore and experience their designs first-hand. Their reach extends across the entire Eastern region, serving Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Sheila now has the hub of the home she really wanted. “I can now cook for myself and use all the facilities,” she said. “My energy also now lasts longer too, as everything is made so much simpler for me.” ID

Above: Sheila can use the worktop, sink with front access tap, and hob on this height-adjustable 2.4m Rise & Fall worktop


For more information on the range of specially designed Freedom kitchen features visit brands/freedom/


KITCHENS WITHOUT LIMITATION. B U I LT F O R FA M I LY L I F E . KITCHENS WITHOUT LIMITATION. B U I L T Made F O R F Ain M IBritain. L Y L I F E . Expertly Designed. Inclusive Kitchen Design.

Freedom has been developed alongside leading experts to incorporate key design principles and Inclusive Kitchen Design.(ADM) Made in Britain. to comply with building regulations and the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide (WHDG). Freedom beentraining developed alongside leading Accessiblehas kitchen is available conducted experts to incorporate key design by accessible design expert Adamprinciples Thomas. and to comply with building regulations (ADM) and the Contact us today forDesign details.Guide (WHDG). Wheelchair Housing

Expertly Designed.

Accessible kitchen training is available conducted by accessible design expert Adam Thomas. Contact us today for details. 01226 446322

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CHILD’S PLAY? Accessible play areas are associated with SEN schools and some other educational establishments, but the presence of accessible play equipment at many public playgrounds is sorely lacking.

Inclusive Design spoke to Mel Blackham, Area Sales Manager with HAGS, Gabrielle Neary, Playground Design Specialist with ESP PLAY Parks, Michael Hoenigmann, Managing Director of Jupiter Play & Leisure, Matt Richardson, Product Manager with Massey and Harris, and Oscar Lorraine, Sales & Marketing Director of Proludic Ltd. about what they think should be done to improve this. Above: An accessible roundabout from Proludic

Q. What sort of projects have you recently been involved with? Matt: We’ve recently completed a major play project called Mayfield in Manchester, which was the first city centre park in Manchester in over 100 years! The play equipment was installed in the 6.5 acre parkland, and is woven around the River Medlock, one of Manchester’s founding rivers. Oscar: We deliver hundreds of sites each year. One that we are particularly proud of, which was completed summer 2023, is Pennington Flash Country Park. We always 17


look to tell a story and bring local themes into our play spaces and here with an abundance of local and unique flora and fauna the focus was on inviting the children on an adventure in nature.

teenage play provision to provide an inclusive option that is suitable for the whole community. Accessibility is a fundamental part of providing spaces that everyone can use together, and this has been a central motivation in the development of KORE. We are hopeful this will help clients to identify and easily meet the needs of a much broader section of their communities. We consider accessibility in all our projects; we work with our clients to identify what the community needs and to adapt our designs to ensure these needs are met. This is where our in-house design team really thrives.

Mel: We’ve been working with a Local Authority in south Wales to improve their accessible and inclusive play provision, at a destination play area. Gabrielle: We recently completed Coate Water Country Park in Swindon. ESP PLAY Parks liaised closely with both Swindon Borough Council and inclusion action group Mums on a Mission and upon visiting site and completing a full consultation realised this was not a standard Play Area but a hugely important community project that was at the heart of what we strive for. The chosen positioning for the new Play Area required extensive groundworks to create a level site that would be 100% accessible and upon reading the original specification we knew we could improve on the desire for full inclusive destination play area. The ESP design team took each element and enhanced the brief to create bespoke inclusive and accessible elements that elevated the Play Area to above and beyond Swindon Borough Council's vision. Michael: Recently we designed and installed Butlin’s Skypark in which all users were considered, regardless of mobility issues or complex needs. Wheelchair access is built into the mound which places the user at the heart of the space with everyone else. It allows wheelchair users to play at height and gives access one of the key towers central to the space. Sensory spaces, a calm zone, interactives, and accessible equipment ensure that there is something to cater for everyone’s needs. We have also been working on a new project called KORE. This seeks to reinvent traditional



Below: 2.2m wheelchair accessible roundabout by Massey and Harris

Q. Which of your accessible play products were incorporated here? Oscar: A wide range of accessible play items were incorporated on this site. The wheelchair accessible seesaw facilitates interactive play between children and adults regardless of ability. It offers a different movement plane for children who cannot leave their chair enabling them to play in a group social setting. The accessible roundabout allows wheelchair users to sit and play alongside all children, experiencing rotational play together. The whole site can be accessed via level, hard standing footpaths which connect all play zones where interactive games, sensory panels and imaginative elements can be found throughout the site. These help to teach the children about the unique habitat found on and around the Flash. Telescopes positioned towards boards depicting local nature facilitate interaction with others and the environment. Climbing units are accessible to all through wide access points and double width slide egress points. Play is provided at ground level via puzzle boxes linking the local heritage to the play experience embracing inclusive play for all. Mel: We expanded an existing play area, which already featured accessible elements, primarily swings. Our additions include the Mirage Seat and a Large Group Swing seat on new swing frames in various parts of the play space. To cater to children of all abilities and ages, we designed a customised Multi Play unit with ramp access, providing a diverse perspective on height. Additionally, we integrated a Play Trail that accommodates wheelchairs, buggies, and walking frames, enhancing inclusivity in play. The inclusion of the Spinmee, a flush-tofloor roundabout, ensures inclusive play for all abilities, whether seated, in a wheelchair or buggy, or standing. We incorporated various sensory play panels at heights suitable for both seated and standing children. These panels come in different types, including colourful, musical, and quieter options, catering to a range of preferences for imaginative or


designed accessible slide. The slide features a wide start section and wider exit section that allows a user more space to use the piece of play equipment. Q. What do you think are the main difficulties in designing an environment that is accessible as well as providing the play value that children require?

individual play. Notably, we have taken immense pride in introducing the first Dennis Inclusive Seesaw installed in the UK as part of these enhancements. Gabrielle: Each of our play areas we bespoke design to our clients needs. Coate Water Park Castle and Gwel an Mor Pirate Ship were both tailor-made with accessibility at the forefront. Working closely with our clients and local community groups is a vital step in our design process to ensure that everything, including wheelchair ramps and doublewidth slides, was accessible and provided excellent play values. We included ground trampolines and an accessible in-ground carousel within our Coate Water Park design which enabled wheelchair and less able-bodied users to be able to access the same level of play as all users. Our bespoke pirate ship incorporated sensory pieces and interactive points throughout specifically designed to be suitable for those who are neurodivergent. Coate Water Park was designed with a wheelchair-friendly swing which has already been well loved! Michael: We included sound bar sensory elements, a wheelchair accessible trampoline, swings, a roundabout, double-width slides, and a bespoke accessible play unit. Matt: We installed our popular wheelchair roundabout, with a custom top that is inspired by the city’s old cotton mill drums. The wheelchair accessible roundabout allows a wheelchair user onto the centre of the roundabout and two other users seated next to them. We also designed and manufactured a specific ramp to allow wheelchair users access directly into one of the play towers and to allow them to use a specially

Above: The castle at Coate Water Park, by ESP Play


Mel: Successful designs often involve collaboration between architects, play space designers, child development experts, focus groups and accessibility specialists. It requires a deep understanding of the diverse needs of children and a commitment to creating spaces that foster inclusivity without sacrificing the inherent joy and challenge of play. In this project, we collaborated closely with the Local Authority, engaging various focus groups, such as schools and parent groups associated with children of mixed abilities. Drawing on the insights and experiences shared by these groups, our primary aim was to provide a broad range of play opportunities for as many children as possible. Gabrielle: There is a fine line between making an area look like an inviting play area for all, that ignites children’s imaginations, and a play area that looks like accessibility was an afterthought with ramps placed without care and attention. Our aim is to design accessible play areas whereby users don’t notice that it has been deliberately designed with accessibility in mind. Inclusive and accessible play is something that is becoming more prominent in our designs, and we welcome this fresh and exciting approach to play! Michael: Designing an environment that is both accessible and provides the necessary play value for children poses several challenges. One key difficulty is the common practice of tokenistic design, where inclusive equipment is added without careful consideration of the user experience. Additionally, achieving play at height often incurs higher costs for wheelchair accessibility due to the need for extensive ramps. Budget constraints frequently lead to scaling back on accessible elements, undermining the goal of a fully inclusive play experience. Ongoing research is crucial, particularly in addressing invisible disabilities, such as those affecting neurodivergent children. Designing for diverse needs, including the provision of spaces like time-out areas and hideaways, is essential to accommodate children who may feel overwhelmed. The constant evolution of knowledge on these challenges highlights the ongoing effort required to strike a balance between accessibility and fulfilling the diverse play needs of children.



Matt: One of the challenges is to find creative ways to make accessible play equipment fun and engaging for children of all abilities; many people see accessible play equipment being less fun than traditional play equipment. We typically try to deliver play equipment that isn’t hugely different from a traditional play experience, allowing all users to enjoy it. We also try to increase the sensory needs within the play area through a rich selection of textures and materials. Oscar: Firstly, accessibility for play spaces does not start once the child and parent enter the park, they must first be able to get there (parking, public transport) and be able to stay (toilets, changing facilities, seating). An accessible play space is a space which is barrier-free and allows users access to move around the space offering opportunities to participate in a range of differing activities; not every child will be able to actively use everything within an accessible play space. The main difficulties to overcome revolve around the space available for the new build, surface, levels, space. Secondly the brief and budget, which can restrict what can be achieved within the financial envelope, to meet the needs of as many children as possible. Designing for needs for all is a challenge as everyone is different. It is important that we give everyone the opportunity to explore, experience challenge and take managed risks at a level they are comfortable with. This will mean some elements are not accessible to all but this does not mean we have failed, the importance is in understanding the community needs and best trying to meet this within a limited/finite budget. Inclusive play spaces on the other hand should provide a barrier-free environment, with supporting infrastructure, which meets


Right: The Mirage Seat from HAGS Below: Proludic’s wheelchair accessible seesaw


the wide and varying play needs of every child. Disabled children and non-disabled children will enjoy high levels of participation opportunities, equally rich in play value. Our goal should therefore be to make all our play areas to be inclusive and accessible to all. Q. What was your favourite project of those you’ve worked on? Gabrielle: My favourite design was Gwel an Mor, the public reaction was incredibly heartwarming and it really is what makes our jobs so amazing. I had a lady who was visiting the holiday park get in touch with me to say how much she loved the nest swing we installed, as a wheelchair user it made her feel like she was flying. Moments like that make the projects just a little bit more special and It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my career. Michael: Stanway Community Centre was an amazing project specifically designed around accessibility. Jupiter was commissioned to design and construct a new inclusive play facility on the site of the Stanway Lakelands Community Centre. The primary goal of the project was to design a long-lasting, fully inclusive play facility that ensured all children, with both learning and special educational needs, sensory needs, and those with mobility related issues including wheelchair users, could play and interact alongside all other children. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Local SEND schools are travelling to use the park and have highlighted how impactful it has been for their students to have play provision designed specifically to meet the needs of their students. One wheelchair user spoke of how the accessible design had meant he was to be able to play in the park with his son for the first time. To be given the free rein to design a space incorporating everything we would want for an inclusive play park is a rare and


exciting opportunity. To see this come to life and have such a positive impact on the community has been a wonderful experience for the whole team. Matt: My favourite project that I’ve worked on was with the Lancasterian School, an SEN school based in Manchester that caters for a wide range of children with various learning difficulties. We’ve worked with the school for many years and have provided them with various pieces of play equipment and also created numerous learning zones to help them achieve their mission in delivering great play opportunities for their pupils. Oscar: That would be Windmill Drive Clapham Common where we were involved in the design and installation of a fully inclusive destination playground within Clapham Common. Working in partnership with LB Lambeth and local stakeholders we achieved a gold PIPA award demonstrating a high level of inclusion in the play facility. The play opportunities extended to support children’s full range of developmental requirements including social, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional needs. Accessibility for parking and changing facilities ensure this is a playground that parents and carers can bring their children to visit with confidence that their children will have all their needs supported. Equipment, pathways, and manoeuvrability were focal points in the design process to ensure time and space to play were achieved. Parents with children experiencing a range of disabilities were brought to the site to play and it was a huge success for all.

Above: Butlin’s Skypark, designed and installed by Jupiter Play & Leisure. Image © Butlins

Mel: HAGS installs numerous playgrounds in various communities annually, making it challenging to pick a favourite. Nevertheless, the team found great satisfaction in working on this project in south Wales, not only because it was inspiring and emotional but also due to the exceptional commitment and effort displayed by the Local Authority staff. Q. It sounds obvious, but what do you think are the main advantages of providing accessible play? Michael: There is a clear need to provide spaces for children that would otherwise be excluded from standard play provision. However, designing for accessibility goes far beyond this by empowering and improving the whole community. Bringing people together to share the space and interact with each other reduces isolation and improves community cohesion. Accessible play design can be a starting principle that by its nature improves spaces for everyone.


Matt: Increased physical activity is key. Having accessible play opportunities ensures that all children of all abilities can have physical activity. This is key to developing gross motor skills, and leading to improved health and fitness. It is also important to develop cognitive development and social and emotional development. Accessible play equipment allows for children of all abilities to share the space, create experiences and memories, and it also allows for compassion. They’re also great places for family bonding, as they’ll allow families to come together and play together. Oscar: 49% of families with disabled children face accessibility problems using their local playground, with 10% reporting injuries using inaccessible equipment. Accessible play provision ensures there is equality for all children. Playgrounds are so much more than just a part of the physical/built environment; they are nurturing grounds where joy, friendships and experiences flourish. So if we are allowing barriers for anyone to play we are limiting the potential not only for the individual but also the community as a whole. When a child, regardless of their physical or cognitive capabilities, can play, socialise and laugh alongside their peers the impact is far greater than just a moment of shared fun and excitement. It is an opportunity to learn, develop and grow. Mel: Ensuring accessible play environments goes beyond mere inclusivity; it fosters a sense of belonging and equal opportunity for all children for which there are so many advantages. Firstly, accessibility promotes social integration by enabling children of diverse abilities to play together, fostering empathy and understanding. Secondly, it nurtures physical development, allowing children with mobility challenges to engage in activities that enhance their motor skills. Moreover, accessible play spaces contribute to cognitive



that are ‘tick box’ exercises and proper thought or consideration hasn’t been undertaken to ensure that the play area is offering anything accessible. It’s also easy to audit existing play areas, and when the need arises to replace certain pieces of play equipment, consideration or thought is put into whether an accessible piece can be used.

development by providing sensory-rich experiences for children with varying needs. Beyond individual growth, these environments promote a culture of diversity and acceptance, instilling valuable life lessons in young minds. In essence, the advantages of accessible play extend beyond the playground, shaping a more inclusive and compassionate society. Gabrielle: Accessible and inclusive playgrounds help teach children to value inclusivity and promote equality at a young age, which has a long-lasting impact on local communities and creates a nurturing environment for all children. From an early age, play is important to a child’s development and learning. It isn’t just physical. It can involve cognitive, imaginative, creative, emotional, and social aspects. It is the main way most children express their impulse to explore, experiment and understand. For us it is one of our missions to highlight the importance of accessible and inclusive play, because all children deserve to experience that excitement and wonder a play area can offer.

Above: Massey and Harris’ double-wide slide


Q. What would you like to see done to help increase the number of accessible play areas for children? Gabrielle: Awareness is everything. We work incredibly hard to bring awareness to the importance of inclusive play to our clients and audience, the little moments we make now can make massive ripples in the future of play. The more people who are aware, the more normal the idea of accessible play becomes. Accessible and inclusive play shouldn’t be something we have to think of as an added extra. It’s something we should strive to include in all future play areas. Matt: I’d like to see new play areas designed with accessibility in mind. There’s a lot of play areas that are being created



Oscar: There needs to be increased education and knowledge around the needs of children and parents who require greater accessibility and support when using playgrounds across the UK. By working with experts (researchers, health professionals, universal design specialists, associations for children with disabilities), we can identify the specific needs of children who may require additional support or have further needs as a result of a disability, and design a play space to meet those needs. Playground briefs and consequent outcomes should not be tokenistic, they should be holistic. A minimum standard should be issued at a government level in partnership with industry experts such as the API to ensure that play areas meet the needs of all. Local Authorities are struggling to maintain and keep open their existing play areas. Play provision should be statutory for Local Authorities, and an increased funding programme is essential to ensure an inclusive play opportunity is provided in every playground. Mel: To help increase the number of accessible play areas for children, a multifaceted approach is crucial. Firstly, there needs to be increased awareness and advocacy for inclusive design principles in urban planning and community development. Collaborations between municipalities, architects, and disability advocacy groups can ensure that accessibility is a priority in the early stages of project planning. Numerous local authorities lack sufficient investment in the inclusion and accessibility process. Their limited comprehension of inclusion and accessibility is notably absent when soliciting and evaluating proposals for play areas from companies. Financial incentives or grants could be established to encourage organisations and communities to invest in creating accessible play spaces. Educational initiatives on the benefits of inclusive play should be widespread, fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of these spaces. Finally, ongoing evaluations and updates to accessibility standards, coupled with public engagement, can ensure that play areas evolve to meet the changing needs of children with diverse abilities. Ultimately, a concerted effort involving various stakeholders is essential to create a more inclusive and accessible play landscape for all children. ID

Designing play for the whole community Less than 50% of play areas are accessible, fewer of those are inclusive. We work with clients to ensure that everyone can play alongside one another, in spaces built for the whole community. n Design led approach n Fully inclusive spaces n Interactives bring together technology and play n PiPA accredited n Full catalogue of inclusive play equipment Got a project coming up? Talk to our design team today!




With no government requirements for wheelchair user housing or mandated space standards, inaccessibility is a common problem. Here Stuart Reynolds, UK Marketing & Product Management Director at AKW, discusses the things installers, designers and specifiers need to remember when designing a kitchen with wheelchair accessibility in mind.


Below left: AKW’s ActivMotion Rise and Fall worktops allow the wheelchair user to be able to wheel far enough forward to access all sockets, the hob, and the sink and taps

pproximately 1.2 million people in the UK are wheelchair users and only 400,000 of them live in adapted homes. With the kitchen the most likely place for accidents at home, having a space that works for those in wheelchairs is important. Regularly described as the ‘hub of the home,’ the kitchen is often overlooked in prioritisation of other rooms in the home such as the bathroom when it comes to accessibility. However, as an integral space for basic functioning, family contact and social interaction the kitchen should be considered just as important to access and use by all family members.

and installation. These include: how is the kitchen to be used by all the family, will their use change in the future, what workspace, thoroughfare, and turning circle spaces are required and what storage and appliances are needed to enable access and use? Answering these questions helps create the starting point for a client-centred, accessible design layout.

All images © AKW

DESIGNED WITH ACCESSIBILITY IN MIND As an integral space, it is important to consider some key design questions when thinking about accessible wheelchair design




If the property is new build, then the sky is the limit, but more often than not the designer, architect or installer is faced with a refurbishment of an existing kitchen. When looking at its layout, the position of existing windows and doorways is critical. If the continuous worktop, oven housing or storage is impacted, then windows or doors might need to be moved to enable the effective use of the space and movement through the kitchen. As a starting point on wheelchair accessible kitchen design and layout, there is the Government approved Part M of the Building Regulations (AD M) in October 2015, in which the M4(3) Category 3 details the requirements of new build wheelchair accessible minimum design. And this is a useful reference document for information for designers and installers alike. However, it does quote some measurements which specialists in the field would never adhere to, due to the incompatibility of the design recommendations. To help bring clarity to wheelchair kitchen design, in consultation with the team at The OT Service, AKW has developed a best practice advice guide for those looking at incorporating such design into their plans. The following are some of the highlights from it.



Left: Wherever possible circulation space should not be used as a route to other rooms

CIRCULATION SPACE The kitchen area should have clear circulation space of 1500mm x 1500mm between facing floor units, or between floor units and a wall. Wherever possible this circulation space should not be used as a route to other rooms, to avoid the possibility of people knocking into each other. It is worth noting that raised height, deep recessed plinths can be included in turning area calculations, as this does significantly increase turning area. This is because footplates and feet can pass under units, which is particularly useful in restricted spaces or galley style kitchens. WORKTOPS The decision about worktop length, height and position should be based on whether the user’s needs fluctuate between standing and sitting. This will dictate whether fixed or height adjustable worktops, such as AKW’s ActivMotion Rise and Fall worktops, are going to be necessary to meet their changing requirements. Also, the depth of a worktop must allow the wheelchair user to be able to wheel far enough forward to access all sockets, wall unit drop down baskets, the sink and the taps. SINK The sink should be a shallow bowl 120mm 150mm deep, insulated underneath and have a rear waste trap or centre bowl space saver waste (monobloc sinks are reversible so have centre bowl waste positions). This allows for a



AKW is the UK market leader in showering, daily living and kitchen solutions for people with mobility needs. Choice, competitive pricing, and firstclass customer service makes AKW the first choice for clients across the UK and abroad. AKW works closely with Occupational Therapists and Healthcare professionals, to design and manufacture a full range of easy access showering, kitchens and mobility support products. AKW’s clients include the majority of local authorities, housing associations as well as national and regional contractors. For more information contact AKW on 01905 823298, email sales@akw-ltd., or visit

STORAGE UNITS Wall units should be fitted at no more than 350mm above the worktop to maximise use and can be fitted with pull down baskets to allow easier access to items, or fit electrically operated units, such as AKW’s ActivMotion Wall Units, that come forwards and down, to enable those with limited reach to have use of the whole kitchen.

wheelchair user to get fully under the sink to complete the necessary tasks. By specifying a lever mixer tap (swan neck type or extended spout) with a swivel mechanism of an appropriate height, easy filling of items such as the kettle and saucepans, whilst situated on the draining board is promoted. HOB Choosing a hob that can be recessed into the worktop ensures the smooth sliding of dishes and saucepans over it, reducing the need for a wheelchair user to lift and carry heavy items. Induction hobs are the most suitable option, as they are easy to clean, turn off if no saucepan is detected, have a low temperature after use and so reduce the risk of burn injuries. The only ovens suitable for accessible kitchens will have either a slide and hide or side opening door and will also be fitted with at least one pair of telescopic shelf rails. The oven should be fitted into a tall housing unit and located with its main shelf position at a height suitable to the users’ needs. Adding a heat resistant pull out shelf under or adjacent to the oven with leg clearance below, is also important, to allow items to be moved out of the oven to check or be transferred onto a worktop.


Above: AKW’s ActivMotion Wall Units come forwards and down, to enable those with limited reach to have use of the whole kitchen

LIGHTING For safety thought needs to be given to the placement of two types of lighting, task and general lighting. General lighting via downlighters should be calculated as one per 1.5 to 2m2. These should be positioned over key task areas. Task lighting should be used under the cupboards and in drawers where specific spaces need to be highlighted. Creating cost-effective wheelchair accessible kitchens requires careful design. So, for more detailed Occupational Therapy information concerning appliances, grab rails, sockets and switches and lighting placement why not download AKW’s latest guide to understanding accessible wheelchair kitchen design, from ID

Right: Raised height, deep recessed plinths allow footplates and feet to pass under units

Life Made Better T H E N E W G E N E R AT I O N

Electric Showers

Our refreshed range of electric showers features further advances in design and ease of use, as well as an improved look and feel. From contrasting colours and soft-touch controls, to LED display and remote operation, every element has been considered.

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SOLUTION Award-winning inclusive design consultancy, Motionspot, have been appointed by investors Railpen and development manager Socius to embed inclusive and ergonomic design solutions throughout a new £500m 500,000sq ft office development.


ocated in Cambridge, Botanic Place, designed by award-winning architects, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), is the most sustainable speculative office scheme outside of London. Motionspot utilises an evidence-based approach to minimise potential barriers within the built environment to create spaces that are more inclusive, accessible, and equitable. As winners of the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bespoke Access Award, Motionspot recently worked with RIBA to develop new guidance on inclusion and accessibility, titled the Inclusive Design Overlay. Set to be unique and first-inclass, Botanic Place is set to create approximately 915 jobs within its estate management team and through occupier companies. The appointment of Motionspot will ensure opportunities are as open as possible for potential future employees and visitors, creating what will be the most sustainable and inclusive workspace in Cambridge. “We are committed to developing a space that benefits every member of its surrounding community, and we are delighted to be working alongside Motionspot to ensure that Botanic Place is a truly inclusive environment,” explained Richard Van Lente, Senior Property Asset & Development Manager at Railpen. “Once completed, every section of the new office scheme development, from the offices, gardens, co-working spaces, public market-hall style dining space and beyond, will be truly accessible for all to enjoy.” Doug Higgins, Development Director at Socius, welcomed the appointment. “We embedded Motionspot within the design


team to uphold inclusive design bestpractice and raise the bar beyond minimum standards throughout the project,” he said. “They will help up realise our ambitious goal of providing, not only the most sustainable office buildings of this scale in Cambridge, but also the most inclusive and accessible.” One such example is the optional decision to commit to providing a fully compliant Changing Places facility that can be reserved by any member of the public requiring its use, which is easily accessed on the ground floor.

“The vision for Botanic Place presents an exciting opportunity for Motionspot to identify barriers and opportunities for improvement and help ensure that the development suits the widest range of diverse user needs,” said Ed Warner, CEO and Founder of Motionspot. “Our aim is to promote inclusion and accessibility for all, create an environment that enhances worker wellbeing and productivity, while also driving social value, for example through the provision of amenities that can also be enjoyed by local residents.” ID Construction on the site is expected to begin in early 2024, so watch this space!

Motionspot creates spaces that are more inclusive, accessible, and equitable.




ENVIRONMENTS Moffat Makomo is transforming Trafford classrooms as an occupational therapist. Here he explains how he became involved in the Autism in Schools project and how they are becoming ‘architects of change’ as a result.


n the bustling realm of education, the journey toward inclusion can be both challenging and deeply rewarding. Through collaboration, expertise, and unwavering determination, occupational therapists can transform the physical spaces and lives of countless children in the Autism in School project in the UK.

DESIGNING THE BLUEPRINT: ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS The aim of the Autism in Schools project was to target specific schools to build up their practice and support for parents and/or carers. At the heart of the Autism in School project is a web of collaboration.



A BEACON OF INCLUSIVITY My voyage began when I was invited by the visionary Jackie Tarpey, a Special Educational Needs and Autism Support (SENAS) co-ordinator, to contribute my specialised skills to the Autism in Schools project. With a reputation for an innovative approach and comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by children with autism, and as the sensory processing pathway occupational therapist for the NHS local area, I was a natural fit for this pioneering initiative. My expertise in creating enabling environments for children became the bedrock for one of the project's impactful modules. Recognising the importance of creating environments that foster the growth and development of children with autism, I gladly accepted the invitation and embarked on a transformative journey. It's about more than just therapy, it's about transforming the entire educational experience for these children. So when Jackie invited me to assist on the project, I saw an opportunity to make a tangible difference in these children's lives.


FROM VISION TO REALITY: BRIDGING THE GAP But my involvement didn't end at module development. I embraced a hands-on approach by collaborating with a support service working within Trafford Parents Forum to bring the project's vision to life - Stronger Together Empowering Parents (STEP). STEP as an organisation offers practical and emotional support to any parent carer in Trafford who has a child or young person that has any special educational needs and disability, whether diagnosed or not. As occupational therapists, we are equipped with a profound understanding of children's needs, allowing us to bridge the gap between theory and practice. My role included conducting school walkabouts in two high schools and one primary school. This enabled the group that received the Autism in Schools training to provide tailored recommendations that extended beyond the classroom walls. By assessing rooms, corridors, teaching methods, play areas and even lunchtime areas, the group ensured that the physical environment aligned with the holistic needs of children with autism. Every child is unique and that is the foundation of our recommendations. By understanding the individual needs of these children, we can create environments that truly empower them to learn and thrive.


IMPACT AND EMPOWERMENT The ripple effects of these efforts have been felt far and wide. The schools that received occupational therapy insights underwent transformative changes that ignited a chain reaction of positive outcomes. There will be follow-up meetings with the schools on implementing the recommendations and collaborative opportunities between education and health services. Through a unique blend of expertise, empathy and collaboration, the impact of an occupational therapist has transcended the project, permeating the educational landscape of Greater Manchester.



Part of the project required development of five sessions or modules of training, including one entitled ‘Enabling Environments.’ The contributors included an occupational therapist, a speech and language therapist, and a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo). The team met several times via MS Teams to discuss the learners’ needs and what the presentation would look like. This module emphasised the crucial role physical spaces play in promoting comfort, engagement, regulation, and learning for children with autism. My insights, drawn from my practice experience, were instrumental in shaping strategies that harmonised sensory needs, communication structure and functionality. The module highlighted the importance of considering lighting, acoustics and other sensory stimuli in the learning environments, which catered to the unique sensory sensitivities of children with autism. By blending evidence-based practices with creative solutions, the educational module provided pragmatic information and tools for educators and parents to cultivate environments where every child could thrive. Drawing from our occupational therapy experience, we crafted a module that embraced sensory-friendly spaces, personalised learning approaches, and assistive technologies.

MOFFAT MAKOMO is a Highly Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist with the Trafford Children’s Therapy Service in Trafford Local Care Organisation, and a committee member of the North West region of RCOT (Royal College of Occupational Therapists).

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS: ARCHITECTS OF INCLUSION This journey exemplifies the indispensable role of occupational therapists in shaping inclusive educational environments. By combining clinical knowledge with a deep understanding of children's developmental needs, OTs like myself become architects of change. They transcend traditional boundaries, creating spaces that not only accommodated but celebrate the diverse abilities of every child. As the Autism in School project continues to unfold, this story stands as a testament to the incredible impact that skilled professionals can make. With every recommendation, every thoughtful suggestion, and every breakthrough, occupational therapists pave the way for children with autism to step confidently into their educational journey, armed with the support they truly need and deserve. ID This article was first published by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, in OTnews, January 2024.


50 Years Supporting 20 - 21 March the2024 disability NEC Birmingham community

10,000 Attendees 1 0 , 0 0 0 A t APPEARANCES tendees

National Accessibility, Inclusion & Disability Expo








Visit to find out more! Visit to find out more!

Join the Naidex Community! How can you get involved? Join the Naidex Community! How can you get involved? ForFor exhibiting && sponsorship exhibiting sponsorshipenquiries enquiriescontact: contact: Scan the QR code toto Scan the QR code register forfor Naidex 2024 register Naidex 2024

20-21 20-21 March March 2024 2024 NEC, NEC, Birmingham Birmingham




Naidex, the National Accessibility, Inclusion & Disability Expo, will be taking place on the 20th & 21st of March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham, and promises to be a celebration of diversity, innovation, and empowerment.


aidex covers all aspects of the disability journey, making it a truly holistic event. From family dynamics to education, employment opportunities to leisure and lifestyle choices, the event covers a broad range of topics. Visitors can look forward to: Cutting-Edge Accessibility Solutions. Explore the latest advancements in assistive technology and products designed to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Above: The event brings together the industry’s top educators and thoughtleaders

Inspiring Inclusive Practices. Gain insights from industry pioneers, thought leaders and famous faces as they share their expertise on creating inclusive environments. Engage in hands-on sessions that provide practical tools and strategies for fostering inclusion and enhancing independence in various settings. Networking Opportunities. Connect with a diverse community of professionals, businesses, and organisations committed to making a positive impact on accessibility and inclusion. Challenge preconceptions and broaden perspectives on disability, fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance.



WHAT ATTENDEES ARE SAYING Emma Partlow  Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Transreport Ltd “I’m always excited to attend Naidex each year and 2024 is no different. I have been attending Naidex for many years and previously hosted a session on travelling with an assistance dog to a room full of people wanting to learn more about travel and take home some tried and tested hints and tips. Accessibility and inclusion is both a personal and professional passion of mine, and Naidex provides the perfect opportunity to connect with people who share this with me. I always leave Naidex feeling excited after two days of sharing

ideas and thoughts with people who share my vision and Social Model aligned thinking towards accessibility and inclusion. You can find me discussing what makes the perfect accessible getaway on Thursday 21st March where I will be sharing my experiences and thoughts as part of a panel discussion. As somebody who regularly travels with my assistance dog, Luna, by my side I am excited to see the increased focus and conversations surrounding accessible travel happening this year. I look forward to chatting with anyone who wants to learn more about the ability to communicate their access needs in advance using technology so that people have the information required to best assist you whether in rail or aviation. I am also keen to talk to anyone who shares Transreport’s passion, vision, and mission to make travel more inclusive and accessible for all.”

Millie Flemington-Clare  Founder of Human Beauty “I am looking forward to meeting and networking with amazing people within the disabled community and sharing knowledge and common interests. I will be discussing the power of makeup and my journey living with a rare genetic disorder and why it has motivated me to create an accessible beauty brand with the mission to create cosmetic products for all.”

NAIDEX FOR PROFESSIONALS For those working within healthcare, there is the opportunity to enhance your professional development with the CPD accredited seminar agenda. Running alongside the Neuro Convention, the event brings together the industry’s top educators and thought-leaders for you to meet and learn from.


If you are a trade professional supplying to the healthcare, mobility, and independent living community, feel free to explore and discover the latest technology and innovations in the marketplace, find new suppliers in the exhibition hall, plus talk directly to key manufacturers, retailers and distributors serving the sector in the networking areas and cafes.





isitors will be able to explore the latest products and services from over 150 experienced suppliers who are dedicated to making life better for those with disabilities. Expect to find innovative solutions, assistive technologies, and products that enhance independence and quality of life. This year’s programme promises an engaging and insightful experience across five distinct theatres: The Main Stage, Accessibility Hub, Business without Barriers Stage, The Village Green, and the Neuro Theatre.

“ EXPECT TO FIND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS, ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, AND PRODUCTS THAT ENHANCE INDEPENDENCE AND QUALITY OF LIFE” S TEVE CLARKE MD, NAIDEX MAIN STAGE A stellar lineup of speakers will be headlining the Main Stage, including renowned disability activist and content creator, Lucy Edwards, the multi-talented television personality, activist, model, and social media influencer, Tasha Ghouri, and one of the UK’s most influential disabled individuals, Shani Dhanda. Their thoughtprovoking talks are set to inspire and empower attendees, providing valuable insights into the disability community.

Companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, Coca Cola, Skyscanner, Legal and General, Evenbreak, and Google will be present to share their experiences with inclusivity in the workplace and beyond.

ACCESSIBILITY HUB Dedicated to promoting improved practices and accessibility knowledge, the Accessibility Hub features talks and discussions from a range of fields. Sessions include overcoming transport barriers, managing independence, knowing your disability rights, stepping up for occupational therapy, and more. BUSINESS WITHOUT BARRIERS STAGE Connect with inclusive employers and talented disabled job seekers at the Business without Barriers Stage.

NEURO THEATRE The Neuro Theatre is a haven for healthcare professionals in attendance, with rehabilitation-focused discussions, including sessions touching on the critical role of caregivers and family in improving patient outcomes, and therapeutic positioning and effective problem solving. The Neuro Theatre will provide a platform for professionals and experts to share advancements and insights in the field. VILLAGE GREEN Escape to The Village Green for a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Activities include demos from Ian Taverner (aka Mr. Cookfulness!) offering culinary delights, soft archery and squash, inclusive dance performances, magic shows, and much more.


“We are excited to present a diverse and inclusive agenda for Naidex 2024,” said Steve Clarke, Managing Director for Naidex. “With an outstanding lineup of speakers and activities, we aim to create an enriching experience for all attendees.” Special guests will also be in attendance, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of Naidex and fostering connections within the disability community. ID

Register for your free tickets at



PARKLIFE! Steve Welsh, Holistic Thinking Holidays

In this first of our new regular series, we spend a week in the life of ‘The Caravan Man’, Steve Welsh, Director of Holistic Thinking Holidays Ltd., during one of his busiest periods…


olistic Thinking Holidays, founded in 2019, are providers of holiday accommodation that is equipped to meet the needs of people with disabilities and complex mobility issues for whom ‘wheelchair access’ just isn’t enough. Starting life as standard wheelchair accessible static caravans, we upgrade them to include H frame ceiling hoists, a profiling bed, shower chair commodes, mobile hoists, and at four locations we also provide beach wheelchairs for the exclusive use of our guests. They are located on holiday parks in nine different UK coastal destinations in Cornwall, Norfolk (two parks), North Wales (two parks), Dorset, Somerset, West Sussex, and Lincolnshire.


A usual week in the life of ‘The Caravan Man’ during holiday season seems quite dull and full of admin work, but even in those times, the joy and emotional fulfilment of being able to provide family holidays that meet the needs of people who have often given up hope of creating special memories by the sea, make it fantastically rewarding! March and November are certainly not mundane though, and generally involve a couple of UK tours to open the caravans and prepare for guests (March) and close up for the winter (November). The March 2023 Caravan Man UK tour covered just over a thousand miles in eight days, and we’ve added two more locations since then!

Below: Steve outside ‘Stella’ at Haven’s Weymouth Bay Holiday Park in Dorset

FRIDAY An aborted networking event! Towcester Buzz, part of Business Buzz Community at the Saracens Head, Towcester. The plan was to meet up at the event with a new contact, Nick Wilson (Disabled Adventurer, Speaker, Suicide Survivor and Disability Advocate). If you don’t already follow him on social media, you’re missing out on some insightful content and plenty of humour!


Left: Steve with Nick Wilson and Ian Taylor

“I GET TO VISIT THE FANTASTIC UK COASTLINE PRETTY MUCH WHENEVER I CAN FIND AN EXCUSE, OR SHOULD I SAY REASON TO BE THERE” STEVE WELSH Given the reason for our meeting, it was a shame that we weren’t actually able to access the networking event, because a late room switch meant that Nick wasn’t able to get into the room in his power chair, but it did get the conversation flowing with the hosts who were a little embarrassed, and gave Nick the perfect opportunity to discuss the gap in the market for networking events that specifically targeted business owners who have disabilities. Nick and I discussed plans for a 2024 ‘HTH UK Tour de Caravans’ to showcase the HTH fleet with a series of video tours with a wheelchair user as the demonstrator. These will hopefully replace the very unprofessional ‘Caravan Man’ guided tours that we currently have on our website! We also touched on Nick’s plans to tackle Snowdon in a bespoke powered wheelchair. Keep an eye on our’s and Nick’s social media channels for news of both events… The networking event host, Ian Taylor, also happened to be the winner of a free HTH break in Towyn earlier in 2023 at the Bedford Business Expo, so was able to share his experiences of a weekend away in one of our caravans.

Below: All of HTH’s caravans include H frame ceiling hoists and a profiling bed

autism is partnered with a volunteer who has similar interests. We arrange to go out socially at least once a month. This might be a music gig, theatre show, cinema, festival, a restaurant, sporting event, gym or any short break. Lee and I both like a bit of rock music and now also run together and regularly pop along to watch our hometown football team Bedford Town. I also have a second Gig Buddy, Karl, who isn’t quite so keen on crowded events, but we still meet up two or three times a month for lunch, a drink, or a bit of ten-pin bowling. SUNDAY ‘Working’ on a Sunday - I still have to pinch myself that this is actually a job! I get to visit the fantastic UK coastline pretty much whenever I can find an excuse, or should I say reason to be there. Then when I’m at home, every week I receive fantastic messages, pictures, videos, and emails from our guests who are gushing about their experience of a Holistic Thinking Holiday… I really do LOVE my job! Today I get another dose of double bubble. It’s an 8am start as I head to the Dorset coast first. Today is handover day, for the newest and ninth addition to the

SATURDAY Sport and live music have always made up a big part of my social life and this weekend I got a double whammy. In the afternoon I attended Bedford Blues Rugby local derby game with Cambridge at Goldington Road with a small group of mates. The ground is within walking distance of our home in Bedford, so I try to get along to home games whenever possible. A good day at the office for the Blues who ran out comfortable 59-19 winners. In the evening it was off to The Portland Arms in Cambridge with my ‘gig buddy’ Lee to see a ska punk bad, The Popes of Chillitown. I volunteer for Gig Buddies Bedford (, a befriending project where someone with a learning disability or



Left: A wet room in one of the caravans and Steve with Lee and Karl at the Gig Buddies Christmas dinner

“I VOLUNTEER FOR GIG BUDDIES BEDFORD, A BEFRIENDING PROJECT WHERE SOMEONE WITH A LEARNING DISABILITY OR AUTISM IS PARTNERED WITH A VOLUNTEER WHO HAS SIMILAR INTERESTS” fleet; ‘Stella,’ at Weymouth Bay Holiday Park. It takes about an hour to deal with the paperwork, before we are officially owners of our next wheelchair accessible caravan. I sometimes take for granted the joy of being by the sea, but in recent times I’ve started to make a point of heading to the beach whenever I visit the caravan sites; there’s something in the sea air that lifts the spirits. Today I got two opportunities. Before setting off on the second leg of the West Country mini tour, I hit Weymouth prom for a bracing and a little bit chilly ten-minute stroll and then set off towards the Somerset coastline. Our last guests left the Burnham-onSea caravan at the end of the previous weekend, so it was time for a flying visit, to winterise and draw up a list of maintenance work to squeeze in before the 2024 season gets underway at the beginning of March, with first guests arriving on the 8th, but before that there was just time to catch the sun going down by Burnham’s pier.



MONDAY Another big advantage of self-employment is that I have quality time to spend with my family, and most Mondays I now head to Northampton to spend the day with Mum and Dad and meet-up with my daughter Flo for dinner in the evening. During the day I picked up a call from Daniel Elliott, an event coordinator with Newsquest Media Group, which meant a little twist and potential beach visit on Thursday. “Oh if you insist.” More on that later… Today I also had to squeeze in my first trustees meeting for Bedford based charity Creating Memories ( The charity works to fulfil the unique wishes of children living in Beds, Herts and Bucks with a life-limiting or terminal illness. Creating Memories is also one of a number of local and nationwide charities that HTH now work with in providing free breaks and fundraising gifts, so it’s a cause that I am very happy to support with my time too. TUESDAY House sale stuff… About a week ago, pretty much out of the blue we came across our dream home! With our desire to live by the coast on medium term hold, Claire and I have been hankering for village life, but without really doing much about it. Now there’s just the two of us at home, downsizing has become a bit of an agenda topic every now and again. Downsizing for me looks like releasing some capital to buy more caravans, but Claire, the sensible head on the family shoulders, would rather pay off the mortgage! (Please let me know if you see any reasonably priced wheelchair accessible caravans up for sale!) Anyway, we came across a beautiful cottage last week, and now are full steam ahead with getting our house on the market. So today has been spent mostly preparing for the visit of photographers, arranging EPC visits and finalising the marketing details with estate agents. WEDNESDAY A fairly quiet one today… another networking event this morning with Bedford Buzz at The George and Dragon pub. I wasn’t originally planning to attend this one


after a busy few days, but I was tempted in by the promise of meeting Mrs Santa, and taking part in a mini festive expo and enjoying some mince pies, brownies, and fabulous hot cappuccinos and hot chocolate. What’s not to like! I’m getting a little addicted to networking events to be honest, but pretty much without exception, I’m having chance encounters with like-minded business owners with vast amounts of experience that they are happy to share. The afternoon was expected to be full of dull and much needed admin catchup time, but a phone call out of the blue with Leisure Homes Group provided a very welcome distraction, and a potential inroad to making contact with the holy grail that is driving demand for the holiday park caravan and lodge industry - some of the holiday park owners. Disappointingly, when I visited the great holiday home show in Harrogate in September, not only was there just one wheelchair accessible unit amongst the 270 new models on display, tucked away at the back of the ABI (UK) stand, but I was met with a recurring message that there was limited demand for accessible holiday homes. It will be no surprise to hear that I beg to differ! The long-term aim is to convince the holiday park industry that they are approaching accessibility needs from the wrong end. I truly believe that there is a huge demand for inclusive holiday accommodation, that meets the needs of everyone, by making the inclusive unit the standard offering for two-bedroom holiday homes. Some of the major holiday park owners are now buying into providing more accessible venues, including swimming pools with hoists, and changing spaces, which is fantastic for HTH guests. However, on the sites where these are being installed, if a family needs the equipment that a Changing Places facility provides, like ceiling hoists and changing benches, it begs the question, where are they going to call home for the duration of their holiday, unless of course HTH have a caravan on site?

Below: Wilbur at Haven’s Caister on Sea Holiday Park in Norfolk


I was joined by Richard Hunt from Suffolk Growth Partnership and Clarissa Place, Editor at Ipswich Star, to look around Wilbur and talk in detail about the pretty unique family holiday experience offered by HTH, and really showcase everything that we offer for our chosen client group, including a little walk down to the beach, of course, and a look at the site facilities. Before heading home I took the opportunity to drop into reception to talk about our hopes to improve the access to the beach for wheelchair users and pushchair pushers and now have some positive options to explore to make it happen. By the time this article reaches print, we’ll know if we’ve been successful in reaching the final stage, with winners announce in February. It was then back to Bedford just in time to meet up with my elves Lee and Karl at the Gig Buddies Christmas dinner, to end a pretty hectic week! ID Find out more at:

THURSDAY East of England Tourism awards Round 2 meeting in Caister on Sea, and Gig Buddies Christmas dinner. Following Monday’s call with Daniel, today I had an early start headed back to the coast. We are entered into the category of Accessible and Inclusive Tourism in the East of England Tourism awards and, having reached Round 2 of the awards process in association with Visit England’s awards of excellence, I met up with two of the judges at our first-born caravan Wilbur, on Haven’s Caister on Sea holiday park.







ACCESSIBILITY Don’t move; improve! Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, says that we need a long-term vision for social housing, and that spending on accessibility is an investment not a cost. “THE NEED FOR ACCESSIBLE HOMES IS NOT JUST ABOUT CONVENIENCE; IT’S A CRITICAL FACTOR IN THE WELL-BEING OF RESIDENTS WITH DISABILITIES” PAUL SMITH

In the social housing sector, a critical issue is often overlooked: the challenges faced by residents with disabilities and health conditions living in homes not designed for their needs. The Equality and Human Rights Commission highlights that 45% of households in social housing in England include a disabled person. Yet, there’s a tendency among housing associations to focus more on building new, modern housing projects than on adapting existing homes to make them accessible. Take the case of Sarah, a fictional yet representative character. She’s in her sixties, uses a wheelchair, and has lived in her housing association flat for over 30 years. Her home isn’t wheelchair-friendly, making daily activities difficult. Like Sarah, many tenants with disabilities wish to remain in their familiar surroundings. Moving to new, albeit more accessible housing, can disrupt their vital community ties and impact mental health.

The need for accessible homes is not just about convenience; it’s a critical factor in the well-being of residents with disabilities. Inadequate home adaptations can exacerbate health issues and diminish independence. ECONOMIC SENSE Economically, adapting homes makes sense too. The London School of Economics found that every £1 spent on home adaptations results in a £1.10 saving in NHS and social care costs. Simple changes like installing grab rails or undertaking more significant structural modifications can prevent accidents and reduce the need for intensive care. Despite these benefits, some housing associations are reluctant to authorise adaptations, often requiring residents to relocate or charging them for adaptation requests. This overlooks the costs associated with empty homes (‘voids’) and the long-term well-being of residents. Housing associations should see adaptations not as short-term solutions but as investments in the long-term accessibility of their housing stock.

BALANCED APPROACH A balanced approach is crucial. While building new, accessible housing is important, upgrading existing homes is equally vital. This strategy not only upholds the rights and dignity of residents with disabilities but is also economically prudent. By investing in home adaptations, housing associations can enhance the quality of life for their current tenants and ensure their properties are suitable for a broader range of residents in the future. MAKING STRIDES To address these issues, the ‘Fit for our Future’ campaign, led by Invisible Creations in collaboration with Foundations, is making strides in improving how adaptations are managed in social housing. This campaign is a call to action for housing associations to recognise the importance of making homes accessible for all residents, now and in the future. Join the movement at www. and be a part of the change. It’s about creating homes that not only meet the needs of today’s residents but are also prepared for the demands of tomorrow. Let’s work together to make our housing stock fit for our future. ID

PAUL SMITH Paul Smith is the Director of Foundations, the National Body for Disabled Facilities Grants in England and working to improve the delivery of home adaptations across all tenures. Find out more at 41


HOT TOPIC Is enough being done to ensure the safe evacuation of mobility-impaired persons from buildings? Darren Franks discusses access versus evacuation.

© Jon Pauling

WHEN IT COMES to both fire protection and health and safety, the most important issue is life safety. However, when it comes to evacuating mobility-impaired persons from the upper and lower levels of buildings in the event of an emergency or when lifts cannot be used, employers and service providers still face many challenges and there is a general lack of understanding of current requirements to ensure appropriate provisions are in place. In most buildings, legislation and guidance dictate that fire alarm and detection systems must be provided for early warning of fire, fire resisting compartmentation must be provided to protect escape routes, suitable means of escape must be clearly indicated and available, and all these requirements

should have testing and maintenance regimes generally in accordance with the relevant British Standards Code of Practice or industry guidance. However, when it comes to physically evacuating a mobility impaired person it is common to find that suitable and sufficient provisions are not in place. A recently published white paper, that involved decision makers of around 500 small to medium sized enterprises, indicated that one in ten businesses are not sufficiently prepared to evacuate disabled persons or mobility-impaired individuals. Some still believe it is the responsibility of the fire and rescue service to evacuate mobility-impaired persons and refuges are places that users of wheelchairs can be left to be rescued. The legal overview is that the person(s) having responsibility for a building must provide a fire safety risk assessment that includes an emergency evacuation plan. This plan should cover all people likely


Left: Evacuation plans should not rely upon the intervention of rescue services to make them work.

Darren Franks is the Managing Director at Globex Evacuation Limited, and has experience in fire safety management; design, approval, construction and handover of new buildings, producing operational fire strategies, emergency procedures, risk assessments, audits, delivering fire safety and evacuation training, liaison with local authorities and assisting clients to be able to demonstrate compliance with statutory obligations. Contact Darren at darren@ or visit


to be in the premises, including disabled people, and show how that plan will be implemented. Such an evacuation plan should not rely upon the intervention of the fire and rescue service to make it work. In the case of multi-occupancy buildings, the responsibility may rest with a number of persons for each occupying organisation and possibly also with the owners of the building. Therefore it is important that all parties co-operate and co-ordinate evacuation plans with each other, however this can present particular challenges when the different escape plans and strategies need to be co-ordinated from a central point. With the large number of requirements enforced through Building Regulations, fire safety, health and safety, and equality legislation, supported by numerous guidance documents and sometimes mixed messages from enforcing authorities and regulators, is it any wonder employers and service providers can sometimes end up confused over what evacuation requirements are necessary? Unlike fire safety equipment, there is no code of practice or industry-recognised standard for evacuation equipment, most likely as a result of equipment such as evacuation chairs falling under the requirements of medical directives. However, the requirements to actually have them, as well as any related training and maintenance, fall under fire and health and safety legislation. Regardless of legislation, common sense and moral duties must prevail. Disabled persons must feel safe in a building and be provided with assurance they can be evacuated safely in the event of an emergency. Responsible persons must also ensure such appropriate measures are in place to demonstrate compliance to avoid potential prosecution. The starting point should be understanding the type and use of the building and clarifying roles and responsibilities. Whether it be for an employer or a service provider, a large or small building, and within the retail, industrial, healthcare, educational, or housing sector, it is essential to ensure the right people are involved in the process for meeting current requirements. Some responsible persons (RPs) assume that the requirements for evacuation are covered by the building’s Fire Risk Assessment (FRA). Unfortunately, with such a variety of methods for documenting reports and the varying levels of knowledge and understanding of assessors, this is not always the case. The simple message is anyone permitted entry into a building must be assured that suitable and sufficient provisions are in place to safely evacuate them

© Globex Evacuation


without depending on the fire service. If this cannot be achieved, entry should be refused, but this is where equality legislation and a potential exposure to prosecution for discrimination may kick in. However, it is important to remember that both fire protection and health and safety requirements overrule equality legislation. Safety comes first! The RP, as defined in legislation, or the duty holder must therefore ensure reasonably practicable measures are in place, and this can generally be addressed by a competent person and/or obtaining expert advice. To ensure the responsible person/s is able to demonstrate compliance in this matter, in addition to the fire risk assessment and emergency procedures, a Generic Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP)

Above: Evacuation mats and sledges provide a solution for evacuating a mobility-impaired person to a place of safety


© Globex Evacuation


– generally for public buildings – or a process for preparing Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) – generally for workplaces and care premises – should be in place. It is advisable to have an evacuation assessment completed by an independent specialist company as this will ensure the right equipment is provided in the correct location. At present, it is all too common to find the wrong equipment in the wrong place as a result of purchasing the cheapest option found on the internet, fitting it to the wall and assuming compliance. Evacuation assessments may be free of charge from some companies and others may charge a fee that is refunded if equipment or services are purchased from them. If a lift is provided to enable nonambulant persons to access the upper or lower levels of a building, evacuation equipment and support services must be provided, as the lift may well be unable to be used in an emergency situation. The most common type of evacuation equipment is an evacuation chair. These devices generally fold flat and are mounted on walls in the designated areas. When deployed the evacuation chair has two skis that have friction-controlled belts that allow one trained person to transport a mobility-impaired person down the stairs. Some models also have carry handles allowing two or more people to carry a person upstairs or over obstructions. It is essential the correct evacuation chair is provided, as other devices, known as transportation chairs, transit chairs, or ambulance chairs, are not the same and do not have the skis and friction-controlled belts for travelling downstairs. Powered stair


Right : The most common type of evacuation equipment is an evacuation chair



COMPLIANCE CHECKLIST The following checklist provides an overview for responsible persons and duty holders on how to implement the correct compliance process and thus ensure the safety of all users of their building: ✔ Survey and identify what equipment is required how many are required and where they should be located ✔ Purchase the correct equipment ✔ Install the equipment in the specified location ✔ Appoint designated operators ✔ Provide training on the correct use of the equipment ✔ Implement a PEEP or GEEP process ✔ Carry out refresher training at least annually ✔ Carry out maintenance checks and servicing of equipment ✔ M aintain suitable maintenance records that are available for inspection by regulators and enforcing authorities

climbers can also be used as access and egress solutions for buildings that do not have a lift for transporting a person up and downstairs by just one person. Evacuation mats and sledges also provide a solution for evacuating a mobility-impaired person to a place of safety. These products are not designed for going upstairs, only for horizontal movement and going downstairs and are generally used in the care and residential sectors. It is also essential to remember the equipment is just part of the process. In addition to the supporting documentation, a suitable number of personnel must be appointed to operate the equipment, suitable initial training must be provided and followed by periodic refresher training, and maintenance of equipment is required to meet both legislative requirements and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, often abbreviated to PUWER. Even after initial and refresher training, operators of evacuation aids should practice on a regular basis to maintain their competence. Hopefully equipment is never required in an emergency, but if it is needed it is essential that appointed operators remember how it works. All the above may seem daunting to implement and maintain but specialist companies can assist with the whole process and some also provide additional peace of mind with tailored compliance packages. Buildings may need to be evacuated for various reasons, but the most common is the activation of a fire alarm. Dependent on the type of building and the fire strategy that supports the emergency procedures, responsible persons should allow for an investigation of fire alarm activations to confirm if there is a fire or not. This will not only meet the call challenge requirements of most fire and rescue services when making a 999 call, but will also mean mobility-impaired persons are not put through unnecessary stress and the duress of evacuating a building if there is no fire or danger. If it is confirmed there is no fire, a mobility-impaired person could wait with someone in a designated refuge area until the all clear is given. Currently, there is a lot of great work that goes on to make our buildings safe, but much more must still be done to raise awareness and improve standards for evacuating mobility-impaired persons. ID

This feature first appeared in Fire & Risk Management (F&RM), the journal of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) and is reproduced here by kind permission of the FPA and Darren Franks.





In the UK, around 1 in 5 people are disabled, with many more experiencing temporary or situational disabilities such as illness or injury. Nathalie Meunier, Premier Modular’s national business development director, and James Almond, director of P+HS Architects, discuss the importance of inclusive healthcare spaces.


or those using NHS services, the 1 in 5 number is likely to be even higher, as individuals seek to access the help that they need. “As the conversation around disabilities develops and differing needs become more


understood, the requirements of disabled people are being recognised on a wider scale throughout society,” said James. “This is certainly the case for those involved in the development and design of NHS services, and individuals and organisations

Above: A permanent outpatient building that both Nathalie and James worked on for King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Above: Vinyl non-slip flooring offers enhanced safety

are actively seeking to amend processes in order to better understand and account for these requirements.” CHALLENGES FOR INDIVIDUALS For individuals who are accessing NHS services, it’s extremely important that the surrounding environment accounts for the different needs of individuals and ensures a positive visitor experience. Often, those with physical disabilities are the first considered when it comes to accessibility, with elements including lifts, ramps and wide doorways designed into buildings in line with the law. Whilst inclusive mobility is a key part of accessibility, this is a first step, rather than a holistic solution. “As a critical environment to many of our daily lives, designing NHS facilities to account for the wide range of disabilities, whether they’re physical, sensory, cognitive, developmental, neurological or hidden will ensure true accessibility for all and create an inclusive environment for individuals to feel as though they belong,” Nathalie told us. INCLUSIVITY IN MATERIALS When architects consider inclusive mobility features, such as lifts and ramps, thinking inside the box can mean that areas aren’t as accessible as they could be. “For example,” said James, “swapping out carpet in older buildings such as doctor’s surgeries for hardwood flooring in corridors


provides a smooth and level surface for wheelchairs to move with ease, as well as being a durable surface against rolling wheels, assistive canes and general wear and tear. “However, often hardwood materials aren’t enough. Vinyl non-slip flooring can also offer enhanced safety for patients, visitors and staff, reducing the likelihood of falls and increasing the confidence and independence of disabled individuals visiting the hospital.” Thinking beyond physical disabilities to ensure optimum accessibility might also include reducing glare and improving visibility by reconsidering glossy or polished materials throughout the hospital. Often, these materials can be chosen in these environments due to cleanliness and hygiene. “Using matte finish materials for surfaces, diffused lighting fixtures to minimise glare and matte non-reflective signs with high contrast text and Braille can improve accessibility by making those with sensory sensitivities more comfortable whilst simultaneously benefiting those with visual impairments,” added Nathalie.



“DESIGNING NHS FACILITIES TO ACCOUNT FOR THE WIDE RANGE OF DISABILITIES, WHETHER THEY’RE PHYSICAL, SENSORY, COGNITIVE, DEVELOPMENTAL, NEUROLOGICAL OR HIDDEN, WILL ENSURE TRUE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL.” NATHALIE MEUNIER THE ACOUSTIC TREATMENT In hospital design, another key area to ensure maximum accessibility is acoustics. “It’s important that individuals with sensitivity and hearing impairments are considered from the beginning, as this will ensure their experience at the hospital is as comfortable and calming as possible,” James told us. “This should include minimising noise in patient rooms to reduce disturbances, especially for those with sensory sensitivities or cognitive disabilities. This can be done with acoustic wall panels or other soundproofing materials to reduce the noise of medical equipment in adjacent rooms or individuals moving through corridors.” In addition to materials, designing specific areas for peace and quiet into the blueprint of a hospital, such as quiet zones or sensory gardens, offer a retreat for those with various disabilities. This minimises the likelihood of an individual being overwhelmed by the numerous stimulants in a hospital environment and encourages visitors to complete their visit at their own pace. ACCESSIBLE DEVELOPMENT As the needs of patients and the NHS change and increase, hospitals and healthcare sites can seem to be in constant development. Although this is a key part of the NHS’ plans to provide support to individuals across the country, considering how this affects the accessibility of a site should also be a priority. To ensure minimal disruption on site, many NHS Trusts have chosen to use offsite construction as a more accessible alternative to traditional construction. By choosing offsite construction, the dayto-day accessibility of a site is preserved as the majority of the building work is done offsite in a factory. As there is less construction done on site, there is therefore less noise and disruption in and around the hospital during a development, with noisy works such as cutting, drilling and welding reduced, all of which can create an overstimulating environment for visitors. Using offsite construction also reduces the number of additional vehicles on site and means that any construction at the hospital location is for a shorter period. This means that that those visiting the hospital can keep to their usual routines and maintain a positive experience of their visit, even whilst the works are being carried out. “This is extremely important for those with cognitive, developmental and



Above and below: A key area to ensure maximum accessibility is acoustics

psychiatric disorders, especially if they’re visiting the hospital regularly,” said Nathalie. As the technology and needs of NHS Trusts can change so rapidly, it can be difficult for facilities to keep up. However, by using modular building methods, Trusts can future proof designs, which means less long-term disruption for patients. As needs change, facilities can be changed in configuration; horizontally or vertically with ease. If Trusts know they need a certain space but only have the funding for a smaller space at the time, using a flexible modular provider means that this can be installed and updated in line with the requirements, without the need for multiple construction sites. CREATING A DIALOGUE Without a doubt, the most important stage of designing an accessible environment is speaking with individuals who’ll be using the space about what will make the most difference to them. “Although dialogue around disabilities has improved, there’s a lot that designers won’t know if they don’t experience it for themselves,” James explained. “This is why speaking to those who experience the positives and negatives of interacting with different spaces is invaluable to create a truly accessible environment.” With healthcare spaces, designing for inclusivity is a priority for all individuals, but especially those who need an accessible space to allow people to de-stress for their whole in-patient journey, from the car park to their destination. ID

Image © Pressalit


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If a business knew of a group of half a million potential customers, plus their friends and families, wouldn’t you think they’d want to know how to attract them? Steve Catlin of the Ceiling Hoist users Community (CHuC) says that adding a ceiling hoist can improve profits…

here are an estimated half a million users of hoists in the UK alone. If they want to stay away from home it means either taking a cumbersome mobile hoist with them, trying to hire one locally (usually minimum hire period is one week or more), or finding accommodation that provides one. A mobile hoist also needs two people to operate it safely so that may mean paying two carers and accommodating and feeding them too. The answer is for hotels and other accommodation to provide an accessible room(s) with a ceiling hoist. A ceiling hoist can be safely operated by just one person, whereas mobile hoists require clearance under a bed and most modern hotel beds are divan type with little or no clearance underneath. There are currently fewer than 20 hotels in the whole of the UK (just one in Wales and none in Scotland or Northern Ireland), which offer an accessible room with a ceiling hoist, and almost half of them are in and around London. We estimate there are less than 30 globally! Modern ceiling hoists don’t need to make the room look clinical. The Brooklyn Hotels in Manchester and Leicester have recently installed a system with a recessed track which doubles as a lighting feature and the hoist parks in a cupboard when not in use. If the hotel has conference or banqueting facilities then there is a potential for more business because they have a room with a ceiling hoist. When the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury installed a hoist in 2006 they increased revenue by £300k in the first year through conferences and receptions. The Brooklyn Manchester recently experienced similar results. There can be a financial benefit to hotels providing these facilities. There are now over 2000 Changing Places toilets in the UK that provide a changing bench and a ceiling hoist, but where do these users go if they want to stay overnight with so few hotels offering a ceiling hoist? In my opinion the only way forward is legislation and CHuC and the Inclusive Hotels Network (IHN) are campaigning to get the provision of hoists included in the next revision of the Part M Building Regulations. The provision of ceiling hoists is already in the BS8300 document but this document is only advisory.

Above : The Liberty Room at Brooklyn Manchester. Image © Brooklyn Manchester

The provision of one or 1% of rooms in a hotel as accessible with a ceiling hoist would make a huge difference to those half a million people who need these facilities to visit family and friends, attend a conference, go to a concert or theatre, or even for hospital appointments. Let’s make a difference and ‘raise the hopes’ of all hoist users with hotel rooms that are accessible to them. ID Contact Steve on


Steve Catlin manages the CHuC website (, which lists accommodation with hoists, and hoist suppliers and installers, and encourages accommodation providers to install ceiling hoists. He is also a member of the IHN (ihn. that is working on a best practice guidance document for hotels who may consider a ceiling hoist as a way to make their rooms more accessible and inclusive.

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