Pebble Beach House: Creating The Space For Potential
In everything we do, and with everything we introduce, we don’t try to change the person. We change the environment
Rebecca O'Brien – Support Worker
For Social Care Support Workers, every day can be different.
What made a service user happy one day, might be different the next… and as new residents come into the house, the dynamic shifts and changes may be required, to make sure everyone’s needs are catered for.
Change is the only constant, so the environment has to be revisited – and this is beautifully illustrated in the fabulous Beach Hut project, introduced to the house by Support Workers Rebecca O’Brien and Niamh O’Connell.
The project came about when the two Support Workers at the house were concerned about David*, who has Autism, Intellectual Disabilities and also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies. They noticed that David was becoming increasingly hyperactive, being aggressive towards staff, slamming doors, and displaying increased vocalisation.
"David had previously developed certain skills, but these didn’t seem to be working any more. We had new people in the house, things had changed, and new residents were getting in David’s space. He was also getting infatuated with one of the new service users."
"We felt that what might work was to create a space where David could get away from it all – a base and a quiet place where he could ground himself. Then we thought – perhaps we could make this place work for other service users too."
The team decided to renovate a space at the back of the house, which was being used for storage. Over the course of several weeks, they cleaned it up, painted it and did some DIY. They added a couch, a TV and some gym equipment, and made a relaxation and reading area. Rebecca and Niamh looked at what was most needed by those in the house, and shared ideas with other team members as to how the special space could best enhance the experience for all.
We introduced calming colours – grey and white. We saw that there was a need for a sensory experience – so we added tactile, visual and auditory features.
The Beach Hut was born!
David was introduced to the Beach Hut, and then others began to use it too – on a one-at-a-time basis to make sure it retained its function as a ‘quiet space’. The children and adults now go independently to the Hut, or together with their Support Worker.
"For David, there has been a 40% decrease in behaviours of concern – that’s a significant development. While in The Beach Hut, David makes use of a weighted blanket and a body suit for compression – providing for his special sensory needs. And there’s no doubt about it – The Beach Hut is a space that offers a lot of fun too! It’s been a massive success all round."
*The name of the individual concerned has been changed to protect their privacy.