A Wirral care home that was awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year – becoming the only North West care home to achieve this top rating – has now reached the finals of three national award schemes.
The Willows is a purpose-built home for eight people on the autism spectrum built in the grounds of Raby Hall at Bromborough by charity Autism Together. It was praised by the CQC for its ‘effective’ and ‘caring’ service.
Now, judges at the Laing Buisson Awards, the Third Sector Care Awards and the Great British Care Awards have all put The Willows into their shortlists, with winners being announced later this year.
The Willows was largely funded by charitable donations, with many community members involved in fundraising activities and former Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez and his wife Montse lending their support through fundraisers. The appeal eventually raised more than £800,000 of the building costs.
The home was designed to be a perfect environment for people at the severe end of the autism spectrum: curved, extra-wide corridors reduce claustrophobia, a lowered ceiling minimises echoes, modestly sized communal facilities to encourage socialising and en suite bathrooms ensure privacy. The CQC noted that, “The building was designed and built around the needs of the people who would be living in it and this had made a significant difference to their quality of life.”
Manager of The Willows, Trudie Konrad, said, “We have 33 staff working here on rotas. It’s hard work and we’re challenged every single day but the team are fantastic. They never give up, they support each other and they take enormous pride in working in this special building.”
CEO of Autism Together, Robin Bush, said, “The Willows isn’t just another care home, it’s a whole new model of autism-specific care. It’s only a few years since the reign of terror at the Winterbourne View care home in Bristol was exposed by the BBC. Experts have argued that such antiquated institutions need to be closed down and they’re right. What we’ve created at The Willows is a homely environment where very vulnerable people have the best possible chance of a good life. I’m incredibly proud of our care team – they deserve to win these awards.”