January 17, 2024

Our Inclusive Community

Capability Scotland’s ‘Our Inclusive Community Project’ (‘OICP’) aims to relocate the homes of 60 disabled adults from an existing residential care site at Upper Springland in Perth.

Through OICP, Capability Scotland will create a welcoming and thriving new community at the city’s Bertha Park, where the people they support can live as independently as possible, realise their potential and live fulfilling and healthy lives.

Capability Scotland commissioned Queen Margaret University to research the factors that would positively impact the health and wellbeing of disabled adults living within a residential care facility.

One of the most significant findings was the need to meaningfully engage with service users in the design of the services they receive and obtain their input into the design of their accommodation, access to amenities and increased opportunities.

While seeking maximum engagement from service users, it was recognised that the ‘Co-Production Process’ would present various communication challenges.

Thanks to funding to the value of £7,500 from NHS Tayside Charitable Foundation, Capability Scotland created a visual and tangible representation of the new accommodation in the form of a full-sized mock-up studio flat at the existing site at Upper Springland.

Through the new, full-time Co-Production Lead, the charity can engage with existing residents, day service users, staff and families to share information about the project and provide support as the proposals take shape. 

Stephen Oswald, Project Lead, explained, “The mock-up has provided a focal point for interviews with staff and residents, displaying information, carrying out spatial testing, exploring assistive technology, and delivering co-production workshops."

“Most importantly, the co-production process has allowed us to fulfil our main aim of giving a voice to the residents, families and staff around the service and building design of their new community.”

The mock-up flat is fully accessible to residents and day service users and has motivated staff, residents and their families to engage in one-to-one interviews or group work relating to the development.

As a result, over 1100 comments and suggestions have been received relating to adaptions that could be made to everything from layout and furniture to accessibility, technology, communications and equipment.

Stephen continued, “The mock-up flat has provided an opportunity for our service users, their families and support to truly experience the size of the space in the flat and make valuable comments and suggestions to help shape their new homes.

“While initially starting with conversations about the space, the process has also sparked conversations around hopes and aspirations for the future, like entertaining friends and mixing with other residents, not forgetting the more practical issues like the appliances they might need to be as independent as possible.”

Capability Scotland also worked with architects AB&C and Architecture & Design Scotland in the summer of 2023 to host larger workshops to record and correlate comments. This data is at the core of Capability Scotland’s Our Inclusive Community Project’s Design Statement and Design Brief.

Steve Malone, Principal Architect at Architecture and Design Scotland, added, “Good placemaking and user-led design is at the core of our work. For this project, there was a great opportunity to engage with key users at the beginning of the process and to involve them in helping to shape the designs at an early stage”.

Capability Scotland is currently testing various digital technologies (environmental controls and health monitoring sensors)  using the mock-up.  In terms of knowledge transfer and building awareness, various organisations such as Perth & Kinross Social Care Partnership, Kingdom Housing, Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, Leonard Cheshire, and MOBIE, together with pupils from Perth High and Bertha Park High schools, have visited the unit which was also featured on STV News.

George Clarke, Founder of MOBIE, said, “Inspiring young talent to help define the communities of the future is a real passion of mine. Creating communities that are innovative, beautiful, genuinely sustainable, and transform the quality of people’s lives is why we run these challenges.”

The Future

The success of the mock-up studio has helped Capability Scotland attract funding to develop a full prototype studio. This research project will be managed by Built Environment Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), with work starting in early 2024.The prototype will be tested by academics and the charity’s service users. If successful, it is hoped the plan will help form the construction template for the 60 new studio units.

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