Creating accessible facilities for staff and patients – Barbara Castle Way Health Centre  

In September 2022, a representative from Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust approached Community Health Partnerships’ (CHP) Property Team with a request to convert seven manual doors to automatic doors within the Barbara Castle Way Health Centre, Blackburn.

This request was primarily to assist a member of staff, Rachael McDonald (pictured below), who is a wheelchair user. However, the automatic doors have the added benefit of allowing any patients with accessibility issues easier access to their appointments.

Rachael’s role requires her to frequently move between departments within the health centre. The manual doors were creating barriers for her, she also witnessed the difficulty patients had whilst trying to access the treatment rooms.

The areas proposed for the auto doors were heavily used by podiatry and treatment room patients including a specialist leg ulcer clinic.

These busy services often see patients with limited mobility and, in the past, the centre had received complaints regarding the weight of the doors and how difficult it was to manoeuvre through them.

After several discussions with CHP, One Partnership LIFTCo Board and the tenant it was agreed that the door conversion project would be jointly funded by the three parties.

The CHP contribution was funded from the AccessAble Budget, which had been specifically set aside to fund accessibility improvements within Community Health Partnerships centres.

Alongside CHP’s aim to make every building a hub within the community they serve for everybody who uses them, One Partnership LIFTCo contributed funding from their Environmental, Social and Governance fund, which is ringfenced to support local community projects.

The doors are a fantastic example of not only problem solving and collaborative work between partners, but CHP’s commitment to making improvements throughout our buildings to create sustainable infrastructure that is safe, flexible and welcoming.

The door installation was completed in September 2023 and has made a real difference to the working life of the staff member involved, as well as to the patients accessing the consulting rooms.

As a staff member I have always felt like a burden to my colleagues who kept having to get up to help me get through the heavy manual doors. Implementing the new automatic doors means I can now move much more freely around the Health Centre and my core areas of work, giving me a greater feeling of independence. It has enabled me to be more productive and feel less anxious. The automatic doors do not just help me as a member of staff, I have seen the positive effect it has had on patients who are wheelchair users too. They no longer have to maneouvre their chairs around to hold heavy doors on their own or wait for another patient or member of staff to help. I would like to thank everyone who made the changes happen. You have given me freedom at work, but most of all the confidence to maximise my ability at work in spite of my disability.

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Find out more Buildings at the Heart of the Community

CHP’s Buildings at the Heart of the Community initiative aims to encourage local community groups and charities to make the most of our buildings by enabling the use of space in our centres to host health and wellbeing related events.

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