HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots today visited Ballymena to cut the first sod on the site of the new £2million Intensive Support Unit at Ballee.
The new unit will be built on a site adjacent to the existing Ballee Children’s Home and will provide a much needed residential facility for children with complex and challenging needs.
This new facility will replace the existing Ballee Children’s Home which opened in 1982 as a 24-bed facility.
Mr Poots said: “This new Unit will provide a homely living environment for children whose needs can best be met in a residential facility.
“Our focus must always be on providing the very best and most appropriate care for children with very complex needs.
“When the new Unit opens next year, children and young people will receive the latest care in a modern domestic style facility, close to their family and friends.”
The Unit will provide facilities to include: six single ensuite bedrooms, an independent self contained flat with kitchenette to encourage young people to take part in every day household tasks such as laundry, preparation of meals and shopping.
It will also provide a computer resource area with Wi-Fi, hairdressing facilities and landscaped exterior with recreation facilities such as the Multi Use Games Area to encourage young people outside.
It also provides a variety of shared spaces for individuals and groups and rooms available for contact with family members and carers.
Mr Poots added: “The Intensive Support Unit will provide a wonderful facility to replace outdated accommodation.
“This investment reaffirms the Northern Trust’s commitment to developing high quality services for children and will help ensure that those services continue to be delivered in a modern, safe and appropriate environment to the children and young people who need it.”
Marie Roulston, recently appointed Director of Children’s Services in the Northern Trus, added: “In an ideal world all children would be cared for in a loving home environment. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.
“Foster carers provide an excellent service and with their love and support looked-after children will thrive and grow to adulthood.
“However, for some children foster care is not an option and we must look after them in residential settings. The Ballee support unit is a fine, modern example of the type of facility we would want to provide the level of care and support these children need.”
It is anticipated that the new unit will be complete by Autumn 2013.