With 127 sites across the country supporting over 1,300 adults and young people with a variety of complex needs, Pathways Care Group has developed a leading reputation for the quality of its specialist personalised residential care. This high level of expertise was particularly evident in the development of its Penhayes House facility in Exeter, which has been put forward for a prestigious Pinder Healthcare Award in the Best Design for Younger Adults category.
“It’s really nice to have people from outside the organisation recognise the excellence of the service we’re providing at Penhayes House,” explains John Godden, Executive Chairman. “From the outset we’ve strived to ensure that the site delivers the best service of its type, so to receive external recognition in the shape of a Pinder Award nomination is fantastic.”
What makes Penhayes House’s success and the subsequent award recognition all the more impressive is that its development wasn’t without its challenges, as Mr Godden outlines: “We owned the site already and it’s always been a tricky building, not only because it’s so old (it was constructed in the 1850s) but because it’s located within a conservation area that’s home to some very rare bat species.
“There were a significant number of other factors that we had to take into account on the project. For instance, whilst we were dealing with a lovely old building with beautiful panoramic windows and large ornamental fireplaces, we had to remain mindful of the fact that we needed to create a robust environment that would stand the test of time and take into account the particular requirements of our residents.
“Despite the issues we faced on the project, we were able to overcome each challenge thanks to the creation of a strong collective spirit that spanned across all the various teams, from our own healthcare professionals through to everyone involved on the construction side. As a group we were therefore able to rise to the various challenges to produce the perfect environment for young people. It was also great to be backed by the Devon Healthcare commissioners, who were both very patient and supportive in working with us to come up with the final design. They understood the limitations we were working to and helped overcome them.”
Even in the face of such significant challenges, Pathways was keen to not be side-tracked, instead remaining focused on its ambitious objectives including the providing high levels of support for its residents. “This level of ambition stemmed from the health care commissioners within Pathways Care Group and was shared by everyone involved in the build,” says Mr Godden. “It’s great when everyone comes together with solutions to engender a collective mind-set that allows continual progress to be made. It was all about people co-operating to create a facility that wasn’t compromised in any way and works on every level.”
Due to the collaborative ethos it helped create, Pathways was able to take a very challenging building that was located in a conservation area and transform it into a high quality care facility for four people with very complex needs in such a way that really enhances their lives.
“It truly is a beautiful building that has been designed to not only be highly functional but also be a great place to work,” adds Mr Godden. “We are absolutely delighted to have been put forward for a Pinder Healthcare Award, but we were already extremely proud of the site anyway, as it’s delivered on all of our objectives.”
Pathways initially got the ball rolling with the development of Penhayes House in April 2017. After receiving planning permission, it commenced building works in the November, with the project being completed in May of last year, before it was moved into in June 2018. As Mr Godden alluded to, the success of the project was a real group effort, with all the individual elements coming together to create a high quality end product.
“Our project manager was PMBC, who are specialists in this sector, having completed a substantial amount of design and build work for residential care for adults and children. We also had the involvement of bat inspectors and various environmental people who were always challenging us to get things right, which was an interesting experience.
“From the interior perspective, we utilised the services of a company to design the furniture, fixtures and equipment, which, due to the standards we’d set from Day One, had to be of the highest quality. We wanted it all to look really funky and inviting for the young people coming in, but at the same time be really robust, durable and safe. We were able to meet both these objectives thanks to the superb support we received.”
Following the success of Penhayes House, Pathways is now striving to keep the momentum going as it turns its attention to its next development in Devon. “We have a very similar project coming up so we’ll be in a position where we can get the team back together, which is great, as Penhayes House was such an enjoyable and positive experience,” says Mr Godden. “This forthcoming development is a building that has been used as a care facility for some time but was last refitted about 15 years ago and isn’t really future proofed. With the ever-changing demands that are being placed on care environments in terms of what they need to look like and are capable of delivering, we will once again be undertaking a thorough modernisation programme.
“We have used Penhayes House as the template for this latest project, taking on-board the lessons of what worked and what didn’t. It’s certainly not a ‘cookie cutter’ approach but we do want to replicate the same features and techniques that worked so well at Penhayes.
“Looking ahead more generally, we will also be upgrading the majority of our other facilities in the next few years to bring them into line with the standards that Penhayes is operating at. These improvements will be founded on what worked on the project, as we look to benefit further from what has been an extremely useful learning process. We were careful about the partners we worked with because we aim to build long lasting relationships and this has paid off, as we’re looking forward to working with the same individuals on other projects in the future.”
Pathways is part of the Salutem Healthcare Group and has 3,000 staff supporting the operation of residential care homes, supported living, day services and special needs schools. As it looks to build on the success of the Penhayes House development, and the potential award win it may bring, the company clearly remains committed to further strengthening its already impressive specialist care portfolio.