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Phoenix Futures’ Scottish Residential Service is transforming life for clients with disabilities, explains Lyndsey Wilson-Haigh.

Lyndsey Wilson-Haigh, Head of Operations at Phoenix Futures
Lyndsey Wilson-Haigh, head of operations at Phoenix Futures

Almost 14m people in the UK are recognised as disabled according to government data, with 20 per cent of the working age adult population falling into this category. This rises to 30 per cent for those within the recovery community, reflecting the prevalence of long-term physical health risks associated with substance misuse. At Phoenix Futures we passionately believe in challenging barriers to recovery, and work to ensure as many people as possible receive the treatment they need to change their lives.

The Phoenix Futures Scottish Residential Service offers a therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment programme within a highly accessible environment. We can provide for people with limited mobility, people who use wheelchairs who can self-transfer, and we can make reasonable adjustments to support people with visual and hearing impairments. The service is delivered from a building with ground-floor bedrooms and a lift to access upstairs rooms. We assess the needs of all potential community members on a one-to-one basis to ensure we provide a full programme of support. This is managed through a robust risk assessment and management planning process which is reviewed regularly throughout the programme.

When the Scottish Residential Service relocated in 2018 we actively sought and refurbished a building which could help and support people with a wider range of needs. We had received feedback from a number of people who use wheelchairs and who were eager to access recovery but were struggling to find a residential programme in a suitable environment. Danny detailed this in his story. ‘I’d been given funding six months before I got a place at Phoenix Futures but no place would take me,’ he says. ‘I’d lost hope on everything.’

Sadly, Danny was not alone. Karen too had faced challenges in finding a programme to accommodate her. ‘I had previously looked at another rehab but they couldn’t accommodate my needs and they were not wheelchair accessible,’ she says. ‘So, when the hospital addiction worker mentioned Phoenix I didn’t believe them as I didn’t believe there was somewhere like Phoenix that existed.’

Thankfully, our new service has been able to improve access to recovery for many people who use wheelchairs and for those who have limited mobility and/or complex physical health needs. The building has been purpose-designed to remove restrictions and promote inclusiveness, and the wheelchair-friendly environment ensures we maintain high standards of accessibility throughout the service.

‘The building here is perfect for my additional support needs,’ says Danny. ‘There is nowhere in the building that is not accessible and this allows me to be a full member of the community. This gives me the belief that when I move on, being in a wheelchair will not hold me back.’

The service can accommodate up to 31 community members, with each room fully accessible and inclusive of its own en-suite wet room/bathroom. Adaptations can also be made to bedrooms, such as bed supports, toilet aids or grab bars. The service works in partnership with occupational health teams to ensure each individual has access to any aids required, and guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

There are large, open social spaces and group rooms, along with designated gender-specific rooms and social lounges with low-level access throughout. The programme offers a range of in-house activities and interventions as well as health and wellbeing activities including music, performance, swimming and arts and crafts. ‘When I got there the building blew me away, everything was accommodated for me,’ says Karen. ‘There’s nothing I cannot do, I have come on leaps and bounds. I participate in everything including external activities.’

‘Phoenix has provided me with the opportunity of recovery and I was proud to complete my detox,’ adds Danny. ‘I have also been supported to get the medical help that I needed and I am in a much better place physically. I now participate much more in groups where I build my confidence and develop the tools I need to get better.’

Despite having been in our new home for just 18 months, the programme and skillset of our team members have developed at a tremendous pace and we’ve welcomed several community members who previously might not have found access to a complete programme. This is just the beginning of our exciting new chapter – making accessibility an option, not a barrier.

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