The Unicorn Centre, near Stourbridge, is a specialist resource for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and complex health needs.
The centre is fully accessible and equipped with innovative technology. Facilities include:
- sensory rooms
- state-of-the-art music room
- wet and dry art rooms
- sensory garden
- Changing Places facility (also available to the public)
Rooms are available for hire to individuals, professionals and service providers within and outside Dudley borough.
- Artwork made by Unicorn Centre customers and staff to celebrate autumn
- Our culture board is dedicated to upcoming events and how our customers celebrate them. In October we celebrated Black History Month. A member of staff whose family moved from Jamaica to England during Windrush has shared her experiences. In November we celebrated Diwali. Our customers have worked with staff to produce this beautiful art work
Mayor of Dudley Councillor Andrea Goddard visited the Unicorn Centre recently to learn more about our service provision and to see our facilities. This gave her a chance to meet our customers and staff. She is pictured here with members of our staff team.
We held our Christmas Coffee Morning on Friday 15 December. Staff kindly donated items which were used to make up hampers for our raffle and tombola. It was a great success and we raised over £300 which was donated to the centre.
Children from the Brook School entertained us with some Christmas carols, which everyone enjoyed. It was so nice to have them visit us again and we look forward to children joining us for sing and sign in the new year.
A big thank-you to everyone who attended and everyone who bought tickets, it is really appreciated.
Our highly trained and passionate staff are committed to working with people to achieve their personal and health outcomes. We focus on maintaining and improving physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
At the Unicorn Centre we pride ourselves on working with specialist health and social care professionals. These include:
- social workers
- speech and language therapists, including Dysphagia Team
- occupational health practitioners
- district nurses
- epilepsy management
We place great importance on close partnership working. This ensures that we offer holistic and patient specific support.
Our commitment to our customers is to support them to be as independent as possible and ensure they have every opportunity to communicate their choices and wishes.
Our dedicated communication group is made up of experienced staff who work closely with our customers to identify any appropriate aids that may support their needs.
As a staff team we link closely with the Speech and Language Therapists for any additional support we may need. This ensures the best outcomes for our customers.
Here is Charlotte Troman, our Communication Champion. She is available to give help and advice when needed.
Watch out for more information about the variety of communication aids we use here at the Unicorn Centre.
Intensive Interaction Training
Through intensive interaction we aim to enable communication and social interactivity.
Our accredited intensive interaction co-ordinators offer training to social care staff, parents, carers and health professionals.
Through observation, assessment, role modelling and mentoring we can work with individuals or teams to develop them as intensive interaction practitioners.
Meet Lisa our accredited Intensive Interaction (II) co-ordinator. She is passionate about II and has supported staff to develop these very important skills which underpin our everyday interactions with people who attend our service.
What is Intensive Interaction?
Intensive interaction is an approach designed to help:
- people at early stages of development
- people who have autism
- people who have a severe, profound, or complex learning difficulties
Intensive interaction works on:
- early interaction abilities
- how to enjoy being with other people
- how to relate
- how to interact
- know, understand, and practice communication routines
Intensive interaction teaches and develops the 'Fundamentals of Communication', such as use and understanding eye contacts, facial expressions, vocalisations leading to speech, taking turns in exchanges of conversation and the structure of conversations.
M has no verbal communication but does have a good understanding of what is being said to her.
She enjoys a range of activities when accessing the Centre and enjoys sharing time and space with others.
M has a happy and relaxed demeanour.
Through regular and ongoing participation in planned and unplanned intensive interaction sessions staff have made the following comments from their observations:
M has demonstrated an increase in social interactivity and development in the fundamentals of communication.
Specifically prolonged and meaningful eye contact, ability to turn take, learning to do sequences of activity with another person, increased laughter and smiling.
Through mirroring M's preferred vocalisations (i.e. talking M's language) staff have observed a significant change in these vocalisations whereby they appear to be more conversational and meaningful in that M is using the vocalisations to gain/hold staff attention.
The ability to initiate and engage in social interaction has developed too. M will position herself to be closer to people she likes. Her infectious smile radiates her contentment and happiness.
Staff feel that intensive interaction has also given M confidence to move around with more independence and to make choices known.
We regularly produce a newsletter. The latest edition can be downloaded.
At the Unicorn Centre we have a lovely sensory garden, filled with aromatic plants such as lavender. Customers from the Independent Living Skills session spend time maintaining the garden. They help watering the plants, removing weeds and inserting canes to ensure our plants are growing tall and strong.
My name is Eliott and I enjoy watering the plants.
My name is Gary. I insert the canes into the soil to help maintain the growth of our plants.
My name is Susie. I also enjoy spending time in our sensory garden. I like to water the plants and put in canes to support some of our growing shrubs.
Independent Living Skills
Whether people are looking for paid work or volunteering, moving to supported living or need some help with their daily lives.
Our introductory course provides useful guidance, discussion and links to help with this journey.
The 6 week course covers:
- money management and budgeting
- basic cooking skills and easy recipes
- home safety, including internet and devices
- work opportunities and volunteering
- supported living and getting your own place
As well as supporting those that come to the Unicorn Centre we also offer support out in the community. This can include our independent living skills and independent travel training as part of a plan to develop and maintain independence in life skills. The team will assess the person's skills and the support they need before a formal package of support is put in place. Life skills may include:
- cooking simple meals
- domestic chores
This is not an exhaustive list. Get in touch and we will let you know if we can or cannot accommodate a request.
Independent Travel Training
Our staff have achieved the accredited level 2 Travel Training programme. This includes training in:
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Problem solving when delivering Independent Travel Training
- Understanding and implementing the process for teaching Independent Travel
This may include where there is a breakdown in usual support and there is no natural alternative. Or, where there is a breakdown in paid support. Support may include:
- eating and drinking, including where there is a Dysphagia plan
- health monitoring, eg weight, skin integrity
- postural care
- therapeutic activities, eg sensory stimulation, intensive interaction
- social interaction
- respite for family
Unicorn Drop In
Do you have a learning disability and/or autism? Come and join us at the Unicorn Drop In, every Friday from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. There's no need to book, just pop along.
The group chooses the topics and might cover things like:
- what benefits may be available to you
- learning a new skill
- how to apply for a job
- questions about housing
- what's happening in Dudley local to you
This is an opportunity to come and have a chat and meet new friends. If you want to talk about a specific concern then our outreach support staff are on hand to advise and support you.
Staff have recently completed the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism.
Support Worker Nikki Potter has gained her Care Certificate.
Please contact the Unicorn Centre and we will email a referral form to you.
Telephone: 01384 813300 (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm)
Unicorn Centre, Brettell Lane, Amblecote, Stourbridge, DY8 4BP