A multi-million pound community facility and fitness centre in Cheshire has become the world’s first public building to secure a ‘Gold’ standard award for its dementia-friendly design.
The Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub, located in Warrington, has achieved the DSDC (Dementia Services Development Centre) Gold Award from The University of Stirling – one of the leading educational institutions in the world for dementia design standards.
The building, operated by lifestyle and leisure services provider LiveWire, opened its doors in February, 2018 as part of a phased opening after an extensive refurbishment. This included re-designing the building to meet dementia-friendly standards throughout, creating a safe and welcoming environment for people living with the condition.
Its fitness suite includes a selection of equipment approved by the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI), and provides easy-to-use kit enabling those with dementia to stay physically active.
The University of Stirling praised the facility for its carefully-considered features, which include natural and artificial lighting, clear signage and floor finishes and fully accessible toilets.
Staff have also received special training in order to raise awareness of dementia and the impact it can have on people, their family and friends.
Dr Martin Quirke at the DSDC said: “Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub provides a ground-breaking example of how public organisations, businesses, and the construction industry can, through the design of public buildings and the services they contain, make meaningful contributions to maintaining and improving public health and social-inclusion within our communities – including the increasing number of people living with dementia.
“Warrington Borough Council and LiveWire’s success in achieving the highest quality of dementia and age-friendly design literally sets a new standard in dementia design quality for public buildings. We hope that the example set by this project shines a light for other organisations to show that it can be done, well, and beautifully.”
Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “As our population gets older, it’s more important than ever that we deliver services which are able to fully meet their needs. That was key to our plans for Great Sankey Neighbourhood – to place dementia-friendliness at the heart of the facility, at every stage of its development – from the building’s design, to signage, equipment and staff training.
“Receiving this recognition from The University of Stirling is great news for Warrington and is testament to the work carried out by the council, LiveWire and partners to deliver a modern, welcoming, dementia friendly facility for our community. I’m very proud of everyone who has contributed to this achievement.”
The hub also offers dementia-friendly exercise programmes, which include weekly quiet hours in the gym, and a group exercise class. The class focuses on the physical and mental health of people affected by dementia and includes 40 minutes of low impact exercise, followed by a period of relaxation.
The project has been constructed by BAM, and supported with funding from Warrington Borough Council, NHS England, Sport England, Football Foundation and Lawn Tennis Association.