Community kindness raises £1,100 to create games room at learning disability service

A Falkirk service which provides short breaks to people living with a learning disability has installed a new gaming set up, thanks to the generosity of the local community, staff, and friends.

More than one thousand pounds was raised earlier this year at the Thornton Gardens open day, which marked the services’ relaunch after the pandemic and invited neighbours and friends to see how the building has been transformed.

The short breaks home, based in Bonnybridge, was previously used as a residential care home for older people before being acquired by Falkirk Council and helping to temporarily increase residential care capacity during the pandemic.

Now returned to its intended purpose, Thornton is offering breaks and holidays of up to two weeks for adults living with a learning disability. The team have adapted and decorated the home to create a lively, fun, and welcoming place for guests to have a break from their usual routines, and for carers to have time away from their caring responsibilities.

As part of the many changes, Thornton now has six themed ensuite bedrooms, a dedicated arts and crafts room, sensory den, American style diner space, therapy room, cosy lounge, and the newest addition thanks to the team’s fundraising efforts – a games room with comfy chairs, new tv, games console, video games, and a pool table.

Sharon Brownlee, Short Break Service Manager, explains the difference the new area will make: “We wanted to make sure there is something for everyone here at Thornton. We already offer guests a range of activities in the home and out and about during their stay – but we knew we could offer more.

“The new games setup is about more than just entertainment, it’s a fun space where our guests can get immersed in new worlds together, socialise, and create fond memories in their home away from home.

“We absolutely smashed our fundraising target because of the overwhelming generosity of our friends and local community. We’re incredibly grateful for the support and donations received, and I’m extremely proud of the Thornton team for organising it and making it happen”.

The recent service transformation has been recognised in Thornton’s latest report from the Care Inspectorate, which scored the service ‘Very Good’ in all assessed areas. Reviewing the setting and environment of Thornton Gardens, the Inspectorate found “significant strengths” and noted the efforts made by staff and management to move away from the clinical feel of a care home to create homely and comfortable surroundings.

Describing the changes at Thornton, one parent told the inspectorate: “The decoration is absolutely stunning and it’s more intimate again” and another said, “The staff have done a lot of work to theme the rooms and they are really, really nice”.

The service is open all year round and is available to anyone living with a disability in the Falkirk area, their families and carers. While Thornton does not take bookings directly, anyone interested in accessing a short break for leisure or just time away from a usual routine or responsibilities can contact the Falkirk Short Breaks Bureau or their social work team.

Further information about the service is available on the Falkirk Council website.