The Phoenix Project provides opportunities for community inclusivity for people with learning disabilities and autism.
The Phoenix Project has been providing services to adults with learning disabilites and autism since it's inception in 2011. The service has continued to grow and adapt over that time offering new opportunities and developing our approach to working with this client group. We provide an expert and highly motivational specialist environment within which people are able to learn new skills, maintain friendships and develop independence.
On reviewing our service and hearing from other parents and carers within the community, we have found that on the Isle of Wight there seems to be very little provision available to adults with ‘severe’ (“requiring very substantial support” from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition) Autism outside of residential living. We believe that these individuals would benefit from a social care service which allows them to meet new people, gain new experiences and to join a community service away from their home environment.
The individuals we hope to target will be those whose Autism affects them in all areas of their life. They may have severe communication difficulties, behaviours that challenge both their environment and those around them and co-morbid conditions. We believe we can provide a safe, fulfilling, person-centred and needs led service to these individuals.
This purposely designed unit is on the site of our main premises and is close enough to our main building to provide security and support where needed, but far enough away to feel private and discreet. We need to raise money to complete all the adaptations and kit the space out with safe equipment and furniture. The unit already has its own accessible bathroom, but this needs some work to recommission it and to change some of the existing facilities to make them more 'Autism Friendly'. A sectioned off area is to be turned into a sensory room with bubble tube, fibre optics and padded seating. Mirrors and coloured lights will give it an ambient calming feel. This area will be really important as it will give the individual somewhere to calm down, self-regulate and manage their sensory input. The main part of the room will have a table and chairs for activities, a sofa and some simple storage. The flooring and lighting have been considered to take into account the different sensory needs people with Autism may experience. All the lighting will be dimmable, non-buzz and frosted to avoid glare and harsh light. All the windows will be fitted with safety blackout blinds and the cushioned carpet has been chosen to avoid confusing or repeating patterns. There's lots of things that will go into making this space truly inclusive for people with 'severe' Autism, so raising some money is key to the success of this project.
Here's a plan of how we want the space to look.
Please help us bring this project to life!
Many of our staff have already undertaken some specific training relevant to this new project including Positive Behaviour Support, Autism Awareness and the Autism Reality Experience. In the coming months we will be expanding on this and offering our staff further in-depth training. We have a registered Autism Ambassador within our team and have recently signed up with the National Autistic Society to start the process of becoming Autism Accredited.
We are committed to becoming experts in our field and offering the highest level of service to the people who need it most!
Our aim is that this unit could be a stepping stone to further community inclusion for those with complex and challenging needs. We understand that this will mean different things for different people, but by building up rapport, having good routine and allowing the individual to progress at their own pace we hope to support them to develop new skills and experience different opportunities within their local community.