At first look, Brickhouse Farm Cottages are just like you would expect from a self-catering holiday let park in the UK.
The 12 cottages overlook a tranquil fishing lake and are equipped with free WiFi, flat screen TVs, fully-fitted kitchens, hot tubs and barbecues. There’s also an onsite bistro.
But there’s so much more to them, as each one is also wheelchair friendly and they vary in size from two to five bedrooms, with all offering disability aids such as ceiling rack hoists and shower stools while others include accessible balconies and private patios.
There’s also a sensory room with fibre optics and a bubble tube and a hydrotherapy pool with a colour-changing light ceiling.
Because at Brickhouse, in Poulton-Le-Fylde, ‘integration not segregation’ is the primary focus for guests, whatever their disabilities or special needs are.
Kirstie Logan, operations manager, says that the services Brickhouse offer is changing all the time, as the staff learn more about different complex needs and as technology changes.
“People quite often say they’re disabled access and it just means they have a ramp or grab rail, but we try to push it make it truly accessible, ” Kirstie told LancsLive.
“We have to adapt all the time, think about autoimmune disability wheelchairs and how brains work. We are starting to realise there’s always more to learning difficulties and more to physical disabilities than we already know”.
Offering a safe and quite space for anyone suffering with their mental health is also a key focus, and something that is important to Kirstie, who suffers from anxiety.
She said: “We want to keep progressing, adapting and changing and mental health is part of it, it is huge at the moment, myself included and I find if go to the lake and sit and watch the water for a little while, it’s calming. For anyone suffering with anxiety and stress it really makes a difference”.
The foundations for Brickhouse Farm as it is today were set in 2012, after the farm’s owners Ian and Sue Rainford had already adapted their home to accommodate their youngest daughter Charlotte, who was left with disabilities following an accident.
Inspired by the support of the community during a tough time and after speaking to families in similar situations who had also struggled to find suitable holiday accommodation with sufficient facilities.
In the past decade, the complex has grown considerably and remains a family affair, with the eldest Rainford daughter Vicki and her husband Daniel Murray, who have two children, now general managers.
Kirstie, who lives with Charlotte, now 29, and her 17-month-old son George, says her friend helps out in the bistro when she can, determined to not let her disabilities stop her. The farm welcomes many repeats visitors and also local families, who like to stay close to home but also in a different environment.
“We want to give every family peace of mind that they have everything they need,” added Kirstie.
“We gets lots of families who live quite close come for a weekend purely because everything is there for them.”
Guests will also find that providing a service for the whole family, including able-bodied siblings and parents, is high on the priority list at Brickhouse Farm Cottages, following Sue’s experiences of feeling isolated as a Charlotte’s carer and like she had lost her identity.
Everyone can use the pool and every cottage and public area is as far removed from a clinical environment as possible.
Kirstie said: “Sue felt like she was just seen as a carer and not a mum or individual person, so it’s important we consider not just the person with a disability, but to make sure we look after the rest of the family – that’s a big part of it.”
The farm currently runs accessible yoga sessions, but they also hope to become a community hub for all in the coming months, introducing games nights and other themed events such as craft workshops and music lessons.
And there are also plans to expanding the facilities for staff and create a sensory walk through the untouched fields on the land.
Brickhouse Farm Cottages, who have previously won five awards, has been nominated as a finalist in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award category for the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2021, alongside Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs and Mrs Dowsons Farm Park.
Of the latest award nomination, Kirstie said: “It’s lovely to be recognised for something that comes naturally to us. It’s at the forefront of our minds that everything we do provides accessibility for everyone.”
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