Complex Care & Autism and Supported Living Units

Description: New build 32 bed residential care unit in Derbyshire for persons with severe autism
Client: Specialised Supported Housing (SSH)
ThermaSkirt Profile: EasyClean BM3
The Challenge
Adults and young persons with Complex care and autism present a particular challenge, and need to be accomodated in comfortable, quiet and secure residential environments if they are to be properly looked after.

Specialised Supported Housing (SSH) are dedicated to providing such quality acoomodation at an affordable cost to the local authority and service providers such as Lifeways and Inclusion Housing.

Grant Livingston, founder and CEO of Specialised Supported Housing explains the genesis of SSH and its core objectives:

“Having an elder brother with complex needs caused by a severe head injury as a young adult, I was only too aware of the issues carers and service providers have to deal with. It’s hard enough to provide a good standard of care and compassion whilst trying to provide a decent place to live for persons with often challenging behaviour.

I felt there were many developers who were very corporate in their approach and often overlooked the simple improvements that might cost a bit more to install but can make a huge difference to both service users and providers”.

Working with Lifeways – one of the UKs most prominent provider of Supported Living-, SSH developed an ethos and specification that set them apart from other developers.

One such improvement was in the heating. Grant explains further;

“We acquired a number of shovel ready sites, and set about refining the design and specification. One of the areas of concern by the operators was the heating; anti ligature or LST radiators were bulky and were a nightmare for deep cleans, and the other default solution -UFH- often triggered challenging behaviour in residents with complex needs due to overheating. I simply googled ‘UFH alternative and found ThermaSkirt”.
The Solution

ThermaSkirt (EasyClean version) is a robust, aluminium radiant panel, disguised as a high security skirting board profile. Available in a range of styles and colours, replacing the radiators and skirting boards in one had obvious advantages over LST radiators and underfloor heating.

Grant goes on;

“I went to see a couple of sites where the EasyClean ThermaSkirt was already fitted and working, and I was impressed by how it looked and the feedback from the users. As we would be fitting a decent skirting board anyway, it seemed a good way to offer a better product for very little extra money.”

At first, there was resistance from the M&E contractors who had already priced up for underfloor heating and didn’t want to change the spec. However, SSH persisted and eventually the spec was changed, and the project re-costed with wooden skirting boards and painting removed from the joinery package and into the mechanical heating package. Compared to LST radiators, and MDF skirting boards, ThermaSkirt added around £500 to each apartment – approximately half of the UFH uplift.

The Result

Available in both wet and electric versions, ThermaSkirt Easyclean can connect onto a typical heating circuit or ring main. At the Clowne site in Derbyshire, SSH has opted for a centralised boiler plant to supply the Complex Care & Autism unit, and individual boilers for the 16 x 1 bed apartments. The heating distribution is controlled by a manifold system like UFH, but the pipework to each ThermaSkirt system is ‘above ground; either in the ceiling void or the studwork like a radiator. This meant installation was quicker and more flexible than UFH as each room or apartment could be done as available, rather than having a whole floor or section cordoned off whilst the UFH pipe is laid and screeded.

With the skirting board effectively fitted and painted simultaneously, and no wet trades, it’s estimated approximately 4 weeks was shaved off the build program. Once installed, deep cleans or cover removal for LST radiators is eliminated, significantly reducing maintenance and cleaning costs.

ThermaSkirt combines the heating radiators and skiting boards in one cost effective and energy efficient package

Tom Falconer from Lifeways concludes;

“We’re very happy with the ThermaSkirt system which we have on 6 other schemes already. I’m pleased with the quality and finish of the SSH projects, which usually come in ahead of schedule, and ThermaSkirt certainly helps in that regard”
ThermaSkirt is available in a kitchen plinth version to maximise useable wall and floor space