Transforming a not-fit-for-purpose house into a home - FitzRoy
Exterior view of house with white plaster and black beams

Transforming a not-fit-for-purpose house into a home

Published: May 10, 2024

When FitzRoy was asked to provide support to five people with learning disabilities and autism living together in Hampshire last year, we were shocked at the conditions they were expected to live in. From leaking bathrooms to damp bedrooms and rotten floors, and even a hole in an exterior wall, the house needed a huge amount of work. We see this time and time again. Our property team is constantly battling with landlords who are not keeping up with essential, basic maintenance. We work hard to ensure that the people we support get the repairs and updates that any tenant would expect from a landlord.

FitzRoy’s head of property Esme described seeing the house for the first time: “I visited the property just before FitzRoy became responsible for providing support to the tenants. My heart sank to find that they had been living in a property that required significant improvements. It was almost impossible for the staff to keep the house homely or clean, even though you could see how hard they tried.

“Once we had the right contact for the landlord, we were able to get the project underway. This included fully redecorating, putting in new floors, repairing walls, refurbishing bathrooms and wet rooms, and extensive work on the exterior of the property and the garden. Due to the extent of the work, it was clear that the people we support would need to move out. The service management team did an incredible job sourcing suitable accommodation and with the help of the commissioner we were able relocate everyone.”

Two images side by side showing the exterior of a property before and after refurbishment

The exterior of the property needed a lot of work, with a hole above the bedroom window

Service manager Flavia explained: “Two of the people we support were found respite care, as that was most appropriate for them, and the others moved into an Airbnb where our staff could continue to support them as usual. I’m so proud of the team – they really have lived the FitzRoy values of being brave, creative, and seeing the person throughout this.

“Our deputy manager, Roy, has had the service phone number redirected to his mobile, so he’s been fielding all the calls. He’s also been driving miles to visit the people who’ve been in respite care, so that they were still able to see a familiar face. Continuity is so important for the people we support and he really has gone – quite literally! – out of his way to ensure they knew we still here for them.

“Once we’d got the Airbnb booked, we moved the tenants’ belongings in to make it homely for them. When they arrived, they loved it and thought they were going on holiday! It all took a huge amount of organisation, but it’s gone really well and everyone settled in quickly. I’m really proud of the team – they’ve been amazing at pulling together and supporting each other throughout this.”

Two images side by side showing a kitchen before and after refurbishment

The kitchen was completely redecorated and needed new flooring throughout

Deputy manager Roy added: “One unexpected benefit from moving everyone out is that we discovered the different layout of the Airbnb helped reduce some of the anxiety sometimes experienced by the people we support. We realised that they could become anxious when seeing food prepared, so we were able to change some of the room layouts in their home to help with that. I was really impressed with how little time it took the FitzRoy property team to get commitment from the landlord to finally carry out the works – less than a month!”

Two images side by side showing decking outside a house before and after refurbishment

The decking outside the house was rotten and unsafe, but has now been replaced

Area manager Dean said: “This entire process has really encompassed FitzRoy’s values, with the people we support truly at the forefront of all the decisions being made to make such a big transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for them. We worked collaboratively with the local authority to maintain high quality care being provided from alternative premises and the service team did a fantastic job finding accommodation that met the residents’ needs so well. Very well done to all involved.”

Esme added:

I’m happy to say that for these residents, their home has been almost entirely refurbished. After 12 weeks out of their home, the people we support were able to move back into a safe, clean, and homely environment, which will have such a positive impact for them, and for the staff supporting them too. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone – it’s been an incredible team effort.