Norwood's hi-tech home is a lifeline to those with complex needs

A state-of-the-art facility is changing the lives of Norwood clients


A new Norwood home equipped with the “Rolls-Royce of assistive technology” will help young adults with complex disabilities to lead more independent lives.

Joe Scoates, 23, and Stephanie Harris, 24, both wheelchair users with cerebral palsy, will eventually be joined by three more people at the Barnet home, which Norwood says will be the “first of many”.

It features revolutionary eye-gaze technology, enabling residents with limited movement to open doors and curtains, turn on lights and select TV channels by highlighting images on a screen.

Judith Harris, Ms Harris’s mother, said: “It’s about choice and independence. It’s been a huge change.

“When she comes for Friday night dinner now, she asks to come back here to sleep because it’s home.”

Michelle Scoates, Mr Scoates’s mother, described the home as “absolutely phenomenal. It really is amazing here.”

The level of care her son received prompted the family’s decision to relocate him from Bromley.

Elaine Kerr, Norwood’s chief executive, said the eye-gaze technology cost more than £100,000, adding to the £500,000 refurbishment and a purchase price of £1.1million, bringing the project cost to £1.7million.

In her view, it was “a superb use of money”, since the charity hopes the residents will live there for “60 or 70 years.

“This gives them choices about how they live in the house, what they listen to, how they spend their days.

“It’s critical. They’re young people. They should have similar lives to other young people.”

Funding for the project, which has taken three-and-a-half years to complete, was initially intended to come solely from the charity’s reserves. But a number of “very generous” private donations had been made towards it.

Norwood is in the process of developing its property strategy with a view to refurbishing existing sites and purchasing new ones.

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