The Pines: our new supported living service in Tunbridge Wells - Avenues Group
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The Pines: our new supported living service in Tunbridge Wells

Friday 12th of August 2016

Over the past two and a half years Chris Crees, Service Manager at one of our supported living services for people with learning disabilities, The Pines, has been working to redevelop the site and get everyone moved in to the new building.

Kent County Council’s Adult Social Services Department, West Kent CCG, MCCH as the landlord and Avenues as the support provider, have been working together to look at existing buildings to see whether they will continue to meet the needs of the people we support in the future and, if not, how we can make improvements.

This project group came together to ensure that the people we support have houses that are modern and suitable for their needs in terms of condition, layout and facilities as their needs change over time. The focus was on giving people their own space and their own front door so they can choose to live as independently as they wish.

As a result of this work, the redesign of the Pines started in December 2013, and reopened this April as one of our largest supported living services. It is comprised of 16 large, modern flats and is currently home to 14 people. There is a large garden with a lovely new allotment, and there is a quiet and peaceful atmosphere in and around the house.

Chris Crees, Service Manager at the Pines said ‘The old Pines comprised of four bungalows where people had their own rooms and communal living areas. In the new building everyone has their own flat and therefore their own space, which has been decorated to suit them. It means the people we support now have more independence. The move was a lot of work and it’s been a big adjustment, but it’s definitely worth it.’

Dan Gower-Smith, Regional Director for Avenues South East said:

‘The Pines is truly amazing and shows what working in partnership can achieve. This project commenced a few years ago as part of the bigger West Kent re-provision project with the aim of offering people with a learning disability a range of accommodation options that would meet their long terms needs and The Pines has exceeded my expectations.

It is fair to say that the project hasn’t been without its challenges but it was certainly worth it. Chris, Jo and the support team seamlessly supported people to move into temporary accommodation for 2 years and then move back to The Pines. It’s a huge step for the people we support, who now have an assured tenancy and the same housing rights as someone without a disability who rents accommodation.

The actual accommodation and design, whilst big, is truly amazing and incorporates advice from the sensory team, occupational team and includes the use of assistive technology to increase people’s independence and where possible lessen the need for paid staff.

The original Pines building was a first of its kind and stood the test of time. I believe that the new Pines will offer accommodation to people with learning disabilities for many years and be a design that we will learn from and that will hopefully help to shape the future for other people we support.’