Smithers opened in 1995 as a short-stay residential home providing short breaks, providing family members some of their own time while the child or young person’s needs are met by staff. It is fully equipped with overnight bedrooms for up to four children or young people, with complex physical and/or learning difficulties. A further three children can also be accommodated during the day. Facilities also include fully equipped bathrooms, rooms with hoists and specialist equipment, a soft play area, sensory room, ball pool and garden.
A visit can be during the day or a ‘sleep over’ allowing the child to make and meet friends and to relax and enjoy themselves. Short breaks offer a lifeline for families managing the challenges of providing full-time care for their child; a break for them, as well as a safe haven in any emergency. The child can choose and experience new activities during their stay, including outings to local attractions, for example the cinema or Poole Park. Staying at Smithers helps the children to develop greater independence, as well as social skills, through interaction with a small number of other children.
Smithers works closely with other services provided by Diverse Abilities including Shapes which provides support for children and Project, the holiday activity and after school club program.
The staff are trained to look after the children and young people, who often have complicated individual care needs. Staff have particular skills in developing effective communication strategies for every individual.
Smithers regularly gets visited by Ofsted and received a ‘good’ rating at the last inspection, during 2014.
To access Smithers an assessment would be required by the local authority.