A multi-million pound community facility and fitness centre in Warrington has become the world’s first public building to secure a major global ‘gold’ standard.
The cutting edge community healthy and wellbeing facility has achieved the prestigious 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 community facility in Warrington, Cheshire opened its doors in February, 2018 as part of a phased opening after an extensive refurbishment, which included
re-designing the building to meet leading dementia-friendly standards throughout, creating a safe and welcoming environment for people living with the condition.
The building’s new state-of-the-art fitness suite includes a comprehensive 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 facility has been praised for its carefully-considered features which include free-flowing reception pods, natural and artificial lighting, clear signage and floor finishes and fully accessible toilets.
And staff have 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, Dementia Services Development Centre at University of Stirling, 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 Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub is a fantastic asset for Warrington, a first-class facility designed for everybody in the community. From the outset, our vision was to deliver a fully inclusive, dementia-friendy facility, delivering accessible health and wellbeing services which are so vital to some of our most vulnerable residents.
“The Hub is now making a huge difference to people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m delighted that this has been recognised with this prestigious global award.”
LiveWire’s Managing Director, Emma Hutchinson, said: “It’s important to remember that people with dementia can – and want to – remain physically active, and while most leisure centres facilitate for those with physical inablements, it was incredibly important to us to design facilities that cater for cognitive impairments.
“To be the first public building in the world to achieve The University of Stirling’s DSDC Gold Award is an incredible step forward in so many ways and I’m extremely proud to be part of a team that has developed a thriving community facility that truly delivers for those people living with dementia and alzheimer’s.”
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 mintues of low impact exercise, followed by a period of relaxation.
Emma continues: “Taking the time to understand dementia friendliness was key from the very beginning of this project. LiveWire worked closely with Walker Simpson Architects to make this site one of the most dementia-friendly community facilities in the world, and now it is.
“As our ageing population increases, so will the need for accessible, dementia-friendly environments and we’re determined to lead the way in designing and building facilities that acknowledge this challenge.”
Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England, said: “The Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub is a fantastic facility for the whole community and we’re delighted to hear that the centre has won this design award.
“At Sport England we’re determined to help everyone in England to get active – and that includes people with long-term health conditions such as dementia.
“It’s inspiring that the Great Sankey Hub facilities have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, which will help many more people realise the benefits of regular physical activity.”
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.