The Orchard Trust

The Orchard Trust

The Orchard Trust | 5th January 2018

The Orchard Trust are a registered charity based in the Forest of Dean, they have two supported living homes in Lydney and four residential homes located in Lydbrook, Coleford and Ruardeen Hill. There is also a day centre facility which is located in Lydbrook, just a short distance from the home. The day centre is open to the public as well as the service users during the hours of 09.00am-03.00pm They welcome and accommodate people from all walks of life, including all physical disabilities, the elderly as well as mental health issues or even people that just need a bit support. There is no charge to visit the smallholding and sensory garden but they also offer Activities, Creativity, Engagement (A.C.E) you can read the details here on the website as well as pricing.

Parking and Location

Orchard Trust can be tricky to find as a first-time visitor, click here to view directions, my top tip would be to look out for the concrete bus shelter opposite the turning and it’s pretty easy from there.

Once you reach the top of the hill there is a car park located on the righthand side, the small car park is unmarked and there are no designated disabled spots but the accessibility from the car park to the venue is fine. There is a newly paved even pathway leading from the car park to the reception area.

Accessibility 

The Orchard Trust reached out to me and asked me to visit the site, the purpose of my visit was to advise them on how they can improve accessibility issues they have as they are looking to make continuous improvements to the site. They are located on an uneven hillside which causes some accessibility issues.

Learning Centre

The main learning centre and reception point is in a two-story converted barn with no lift, the only access point to the second story for wheelchair users is across a raised ramp which you are required to go outside for, the turning point into the building is quite tight and a little tricky to manoeuvre. All the doors across the site are manual so a wheelchair user would require assistance from somebody who is able bodied. Despite some of the accessibility issues, I was still able to access all areas of the building.#

Kitchen

Within the learning centre is a kitchen with four separate colour coded areas, in each area there is an oven, a sink and basic kitchen appliances such as chopping boards and frying pans etc. In the pink kitchen there is a height adjustable worktop at the touch of a button. There is plenty of space to navigate around the kitchen in my wheelchair.

Activity Park

There is a newly built activity park which is designed for adults with disabilities as well as children, there are also activities for the able-bodied which provides a fun day out for all families. In the park there is a swing and merry-go-round designed for wheelchairs to mount. Along side it is a standard swing to all be enjoyed at the same time and the merry-go-round has seats to be sat on as well as up to 2 wheelchairs. There is also a in ground trampoline which will also hold a wheelchair.

Activity Park

There is a newly built activity park which is designed for adults with disabilities as well as children, there are also activities for the able-bodied which provides a fun day out for all families. In the park there is a swing and merry-go-round designed for wheelchairs to mount. Along side it is a standard swing to all be enjoyed at the same time and the merry-go-round has seats to be sat on as well as up to 2 wheelchairs. There is also a in ground trampoline which will also hold a wheelchair.

Smallholding

There is a lovely smallholding which is fully accessible for wheelchair users. Here you’ll find some farm animals including Milly the pig, sheep, pygmy goats (two of which are pregnant!), chickens and ducks which you are able to pet and feed. The goats in particular are very fun and friendly!

There is a newly paved pathway which leads around the smallholding, it is wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass by each other. There are also stopping points with benches dotted along the pathway, so people can stop for a rest if needed.

At the far end of the walkway there is a sheltered wooden outdoor classroom, in here is a long bench purposely built to fit a wheelchair underneath. It’s also nice and quiet in here with a nice view and perfect for a picnic.

Sensory Garden

Even though I visited the sensory garden on a cold winter day I was still able to appreciate the surroundings, I can imagine it would be twice as lovely in the summer.

I was able to navigate around all the garden in my wheelchair, however some of the areas I wasn’t able to reach from my wheelchair due to them being too far away from the pathway.

There was however still plenty of areas I could enjoy including a xylophone, plants I could touch, feel and smell and a small water feature.

Toilets

There is a disabled toilet located round the back of the building on the ground floor in the learning centre. There is quite a tight turning point into the toilet which is hard to manoeuvre as a wheelchair user.

I was unable to transfer from my wheelchair to the toilet due to not having an appropriate hand rail. There are manual adjustable hand rails for left and right-hand transfer, however for me to be able to transfer from my wheelchair I need a static handrail attached to the wall that doesn’t move for safety purposes. I advised Phill about this and he said he would look to install a new handrail as soon as possible.

I was unable to turn the tap on by myself as it was too stiff, again Phill is aware of this and considering other options. The toilet paper and soap dispenser are also a little too high for me in my wheelchair.

There is an overhead hoist and an adjustable bed however I didn’t use these facilities, so I can’t comment any further.

There is enough room in the toilet for a wheelchair to turn around safely.

Note there is another toilet in the Leisure Centre which I was able to use.

Leisure Centre

There was a flat entrance into the leisure centre, it was accessible through a manual double door. There was also an accessible fire exit at the back of the building via a ramp.

There is an onsite fully equipped pool room, jacuzzi and floor level trampoline. I didn’t use any of these facilities however, at first glance they all looked very good. There was somebody in the swim gym, so I couldn’t look at this area, but I did view the rebound centre which has a ground level trampoline with a hoist to assist with transfer. There was plenty of soft mats around the trampoline to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

There is a disabled toilet in the leisure centre, access to the toilet is not ideal for a wheelchair user as you are required to drive the wheelchair over the mats for the trampoline and there is a danger of driving over the trampoline by mistake causing damage or injury.

Customer Service

Project manager Phill Hucks and George gave us the tour of the venue, they were both very polite and friendly and took all my comments on board with a view to take action. It is obvious that they both have a passion to give their service users the best experience possible.

Accessibility Rating

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There are six disabled parking spaces located outside the front of the building.

There is an accessible flat entrance into the venue. There is a large automatic door.

The staff are all friendly, well mannered and helpful.

Toilets

There are disabled toilets, these are located on the ground floor. These are accessible for wheelchair users. They are not large enough for a wheelchair to turn around safely but there is enough room for a PA or family member to assist a wheelchair user. The toilet has a handrail for both transfer sides. The sink and hand dryer are accessible for wheelchair users. The toilet does not require a RADAR key. There is enough lighting and the toilets are safe to use.

Lifts

There are two lifts within the building, these are located on the ground floor. They are accessible for wheelchair users but they are not large enough to turn around in safely. There is enough room for a PA or family member to assist a wheelchair user. The lighting inside the lift is good, however, the lift buttons are out of reach of a wheelchair users.

Restaurant

The restaurant and lounge have plenty of space and are accessible to wheelchair users. They serve breakfast Monday to Friday 7am-930am, Saturday 730am-1030am and Sunday 8am-11am. The bar and lounge serve food and snacks throughout the day. Dinner is served 7pm-930pm. They offer a larger menu for the visually impaired. If requested, staff will read the menu.

Rooms

There are two disabled twin rooms, these are located on the ground floor. There is clear access to both the rooms. There is a walk-in shower with a seat and plenty of room for a wheelchair user. The toilet has a handrail, one of the rooms has a left hand transfer and the other room has a right hand transfer. They offer a deaf guard and a hearing loop.

Facilities

The facility also offers a health spa, located on the lower ground floor. They offer a large disabled changing room with it’s own poolside entrance. There is a large walk in shower with a seat inside the changing room. They also offer a hoist with help into the pool. They also offer a gym and every staff member is trained to help with the disabled.

Accessibility Rating