Royal opening for new centre

Friday, 16 January 2009

A new state of the art building which has been designed and created specifically for North Bristol NHS Trust’s Paediatric Communications Aid Service (PCAS) will be officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on January 16.
The PCAS team work with children who have severe communication difficulties; many of these children have cerebral palsy, learning difficulties or autism. PCAS assesses and provides these children with various voice-output communication aids - which can range from state-of-the-art touch screens that provide a vocabulary of thousands of words, to simple books with symbols and pictures that the children can use to express what they want to say.
The service is based at Claremont School in Henleaze, a special school for children with physical and associated learning difficulties, and assesses around 40 children with severe communication difficulties from across the south west every year.
The new building has been developed thanks to a donation of £135,000 from the Wooden Spoon Society and the generosity of local businesses who gave their time and expertise free of charge.
The Chairman of The Bristol & Bath Wooden Spoon, Andrew Sheridan said:
“Spoon is absolutely delighted to have supported PCAS who provide help to those in need so that they are able to communicate using voice output aids.
“To see children communicating using these aids in the wonderful purpose built building makes all the fundraising and hard work truly worthwhile.”
The building houses up to fifty people and replaces an outdated building which was not fit for purpose. It consists of one large room, a small children’s quiet playroom, a reception area, two offices, accessible toilets, a kitchen and a store room.
Sally Chan, a speech and language therapist who helped set up PCAS more than ten years ago, said: “The building looks absolutely amazing; everyone feels at ease as soon as they enter and there is a comfortable soothing effect, which is vital for the children.
“We are so grateful to the Wooden Spoon Society. The total cost of the building would have been in excess of £250,000 and therefore not possible if it hadn't been for these guys.

“It was designed around the children and has a specially designed environmentally controlled room, where children can open windows, blinds and doors using a single switch.
“The windows are also situated at floor level which means children can watch who is coming up the ramp into the centre before they arrive.
“It is a much needed home for PCAS and in addition, Drake Music Project will run music sessions for the children at Claremont School, so that they can generate music using switches, computer systems with specialist software as well as communication aids.
"Playing musical instruments is impossible for our children with physical difficulties, but Drake provides the means for these youngsters to express themselves through music, using switches and technology.

“The new building will enable children with physical difficulties to be as independent as possible.”