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La Vieille Plage: "Coming soon"

La Vieille Plage:

Tuesday 17 October 2023

La Vieille Plage: "Coming soon"

Tuesday 17 October 2023


Work will start before Christmas to build new homes for adults with learning difficulties enabling them to live as part of the community within walking distance of beaches, shops, and a chippy at L'islet.

The new site - La Vieille Plage - should be ready for 14 people to move in by the summer of 2025, with full time support workers on site.

It's intended for people aged between their 30s and 50s to live at the new accommodation - with some of those people currently living at the Duchess of Kent House at the hospital, which is not considered suitable for their needs.

Mandy Mackelworth works with the people who will directly benefit from the new development.

"I manage the adult disability service of which this is one of our 13 service areas. I support adults with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They won't be living alone as such, we'll use quite a lot of assistive technology and other things to monitor them. They can be alone for a period of time but we need to know if someone has a seizure or if someone falls out of bed, you know anything like that."

la vieille plage

Pictured (l-r): Phil Roussel (GHA), Dan Taylor (Rihoys), Mandy Mackelworth (HSC), Georgie Hayes (HSC), Vic Slade (GHA), Deputy Peter Roffey (ESS).

She explained that some of the people will have physical needs as well as learning difficulties. 

"We're prioritising the people who were living in Sunnybrook, and they've all got quite complex needs. Two of them are in wheelchairs, so here they'll have ceiling track hoists rather than a mobile hoist. So you can actually with a bit of dignity support somebody to go into their own bathroom rather than have to hoist them with a mobile hoist into a chair."

Phil Roussel is the Development Manager for the Guernsey Housing Association. He said the technology that will go in to these new builds is relatively easy to install but will bring many benefits. 

"It's not complicated to install, it's just a bit of wiring. Office blocks are far more complicated to wire and to facilitate than one of these so I don't see there's a problem with it."

His boss, Vic Slade - the GHA Chief Executive - said while general needs housing is required too, this type of housing, with the new technology enabling more independent living, is urgently needed.

"A lot of people have been waiting a long time for accommodation that properly suits their needs so it's a really good opportunity to do that," she said, explaining that this site - between Sandy Hook and Sandy Lane at L'islet will mean the new build is part of the local community.

"It's about integration and cohesion. Rather than being seen as separate in any way or othered in any way, this is about a good community feel where people come together and everyone's properly integrated."

la vieille plage

Pictured: The new development will be nestled between Sandy Lane and Sandy Hook, with vehicle access from the Sandy Hook estate and pedestrian access through Sandy Lane.

Mrs Mackelworth agreed that is very important when planning housing for people with additional needs.

"The community here is fantastic. The location here is fantastic.

"At the moment they live on the top of the hill and can't get up and down because they're in wheelchairs. But here it's nice and flat.

"You can go walking, and if you're in a wheelchair, you're in the heart of the community.

"When I first started as a learning disability nurse, (adults with learning disabilities) were in long stay hospitals and sort of tucked away from everyone and actually everybody deserves the same as all of us, a nice home in the community where they can access all the activities.

"They'll have support in their own homes to do all the activities of daily living, so all their cooking, cleaning, to be a part of that whatever they can take part in, doing their laundry, going out into the community. And then at night, they'll have night staff who will support them if they need it."

While Mrs Mackelworth was clear to state that she can't speak on behalf of her service users or their parents and families, she believes most of them are very happy the new development is going ahead.

"Many of them would not fully understand, a lot of them are non verbal, cognitively, not able to fully understand but actually you can just see their faces when we move people...parents said to us this is rather too good for our children because they're so used to residential homes and actually they weren't used to somebody having their own home in the community that was just like anyone else.

"I remember one parent saying to me when (their child) moved into the extra care housing scheme that they could not believe that their son would actually have his own home and be able to do all the things that he did.

"Over the years people have just imagined that someone will be in a residential home forever and that they won't have the same opportunities as their siblings. I can't say exactly how I feel as a parent because I'm not a parent of somebody with a learning disability but the reactions I've seen of parents have just been tears, they've been so overwhelmed by the fact that somebody can live in their own home, albeit with support, and actually have their own area."

autism bungalows GHA

Pictured: A kitchen in a specialist bungalow at La Nouvelle Maraitaine where there is already a residential community for adults with learning difficulties.

The development of La Vieille Plage is part of the States’ ‘Affordable Housing Development Programme’ overseen by the Committee for Employment and Social Security.

ESS President, Deputy Peter Roffey said "it's an integral part of the affordable housing development program".

"These are adults with learning disabilities, but that is happenstance really, they are still Guernsey people who need accommodation and that's what this is all about."

Deputy Roffey said this site was a perfect location for such a development as despite being central to the community at L'islet, the area is well surrounded and therefore safe.

"It's a classic infield site. It's obviously been left behind with development going on around it. It's far too big to ignore but far too small to be of any use to agriculture or anything like that. It really is a wasted site at the moment. So I think it's the appropriate development site really."

Mr Roussel of the GHA will work closely with Dan Taylor of Rihoys who will be overseeing the site work. The pair said the development will start to go up by the new year with an 18 month build plan.

"We're looking to get underway with some enabling works this side of Christmas and then the main works will start in the new year," said Mr Taylor.

"We're hoping that by the summer of '25 the building will be occupied....it's not a complicated build so it should go up relatively quickly and relatively easily."

dolmen

Pictured: The dolmen at Sandy Hook will be more accessible to the general public once the new extra care housing is built adjacent to it, with both vehicular and pedestrian access.

One aspect of the site that it's already been agreed they will have to work around is a dolmen which lies to the north of the development.

Deputy Roffey said that was a very important part of the planning process.

"...nobody wants to disturb a dolmen," he said.

"The dolmen is part of our heritage, but actually I think what's going to happen is that with the pedestrian walkway going through this part of the site more people are going to see the dolmen than they've ever done before because it really is hidden away and unless you're a real expert in Guernsey history, you're probably not going to know it's here, but we don't have that many and it's good to open it up a little bit."

With 18 months to go before the new site is ready for residents to move in, everyone involved so far is agreed that it will be worth that wait.

"...the main thing is that they will have real fit for purpose and modern accommodation. At the moment the places they're living probably are not ideal," said Deputy Roffey.

Ms Slade said: "...they can enjoy the stuff the rest of the community enjoys. We expect them to go out and to go to the chip shop on a Friday night, or to visit the beach.

"So it's a great site ideally situated for them."

READ MORE...

States and GHA plan for more supported living facilities 

WATCH: Archaeologists reach pre-historic ground

First specialist autism bungalows completed 

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"...we will be back!"

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