Sunflower House

Sunflower House provides short breaks for children with physical disabilities and complex health needs.

Children can come to Sunflower House for a variety of reasons. For your child to make new friends, have fun and be given the opportunity to participate in new activities and gain more independence. It is also  time for families and carers to have a break.

Staff cater for a wide range of care, medical and dietary needs and are all fully trained in these areas. Everyone works together as a team to offer children individual choice and opportunities. The staffing levels vary depending on the children’s needs.

Sunflower House is a purpose built bungalow with five bedrooms, located in a quiet residential area close to local amenities, bus stops and parks. 

There are spacious bedrooms with an intercom system, lounge/dining room, conservatory, kitchen, bathrooms, toilet facilities and laundry room.

Sunflower House leaflets

Translated versions 

Ofsted inspects Sunflower House once a year. This is to ensure that Sunflower House meets the needs of the children and young people who use this service. 

You can read the latest Sunflower House Inspection Report here. Our Ofsted reference number is: SC409502.

How to apply for a place at Sunflower House

Admission to Sunflower House is through referral from the Children with Disabilities Social Work Team. 

All referrals to us are made via a social worker who will work with the family to carry out an assessment of need. The process to agree a package of care is via the Bedford Allocation Panel or Joint Allocation Panel.

Initially, families are invited to look around prior to making a decision about whether to use the service. If you decide to continue, we will begin with short visits, usually over a mealtime, so we can begin to get to know your child and they can get to know us.

A slow introduction is then planned, with your agreement, until a formal placement meeting takes place with your social worker for regular visits to be organised.


Admission to the unit is via a referral from the Children with Disabilities Social Work Team. A social worker will assess the child and families needs to ensure Sunflower House is the appropriate placement.

The number of nights allocated per month is decided at a Resource Panel based on the social workers assessment of what is needed. This decision is then reviewed at least every six months to ensure the provision still meets the need of the child and their family.

Your child will be allocated their respite stays approximately four months in advance and written notification will be sent out to you. If you need to change your dates for any reason such as sickness or family holiday, then we will try to accommodate your wishes, however we can not always guarantee this.

Transport arrangements will be discussed with your social worker at the placement planning meetings.

Eligibility criteria

  • children who use wheelchairs
  • children with other mobility issues
  • children with high medical, but not nursing needs, unless these can be met by a district nurse visiting eg daily injections or enema
  • children who can not communicate verbally
  • degenerative physical ability (up to a point of needing hospice care) children with degenerative disease such as muscular dystrophy need regular assessment.
  • low risk, manageable non injurious challenging behaviour. would need careful assessment to ensure such needs could be met within the peer group available ensuring that other potentially vulnerable children would be safe.
  • gastric feeding via a peg into the stomach
  • diagnosed learning disability if there is primarily a physical disability
  • sight/hearing impairment
  • children with epilepsy

Guide for families

Below is a guide for families when staying at Sunflower House.


At Sunflower House the children participate in a wide range of outings and activities. The children are actively involved in the decision making for where we go and what we do. We have our own mini bus with a tail lift and all staff are suitably trained in order to drive the bus and safely secure wheelchairs and equipment.

Some examples of outings we have taken children on in the past:

  • trips to local cinema
  • bowling
  • shopping
  • visiting zoos
  • animal shelters
  • the seaside
  • canal trips
  • local parks for picnics

Within Sunflower House we have:

  • a wide selection of books, games, art and crafts
  • CDs, DVDs, computer games, a Wii and Xbox console and sensory equipment
  • a large interactive touch screen computer which is accessible to the children

Our garden is wheelchair accessible, we have many outdoor activity choices including a sandpit and wheelchair height vegetable gardens.  

Children are welcome to bring in their own games, CDs and books and toys, we just ask that they are clearly labelled. 

Medical needs

If your child is on any medication, then you will need to send this into Sunflower House with your child. We will store this safely for you, and administer it when needed. Before every visit you will need to complete a Bedford Borough Council ‘Parental Medication Form’ for both prescription and non-prescription medications.

Please let us know if your child contracts any form of contagious illness or childhood disease prior to their stay at Sunflower House. 

If your child has had an operation, we will need to know all about the operation, any changes in medication and any other treatment that you may need ie dressings etc. We will need an up to date health care plan from nursing staff.

Clothing and personal belongings

Please ensure that you send in enough clothes for your child’s stay. If your child needs pads please send in enough for their stay. It helps to label your child’s clothes; this should prevent anything getting lost. At Sunflower House we will wash your child’s clothes daily but if you’d prefer that we didn’t wash them then please let us know.

Children are asked to bring in their own equipment such as electric wheelchairs and feed pumps. Please remember any specific instructions for charging your wheelchair or personal talker.

Many parents choose to send pocket money for their child to enable them to purchase any treats and items that they may wish to buy. Pocket money is booked in and looked after by staff or by the child. Unspent pocket money is booked out and sent home.    

Staff and security

There will always be at least two members of staff on duty to assist throughout both the day and night. There are alarm cords in each room, the bathroom, shower room and both the toilets to call staff, if required.

There is also an intercom system situated in the bedrooms. A community paediatric nurse can be organised if nursing assistance is required.

Every child and their family is allocated a key worker. The key worker will work with you and your child to ensure that the introduction and stays at Sunflower House run smoothly.

The contact worker will be the main person that you will liaise with when your child is first referred. They may come to visit you at home, and see your child at school. This will help them get a good overview of your child prior to them attending Sunflower House. They will liaise with the family, school, social workers and any other relevant professionals.

The contact worker is responsible for writing your child’s care plan. Every child at Sunflower House has a detailed care plan that tells all staff how best to look after your child, any likes / dislikes, dietary needs leisure needs or personal care needs.


To enable us to be consistent when managing your child’s care, some children have a Home – Sunflower book. You should use this book to communicate any relevant information to us, and we will communicate information to you so you know how your child has been.

All staff have completed a food hygiene course. The staff provide all meals. Anybody that has special dietary needs can be catered for.

During school days staff will always try and arrange an agreed suitable bedtime and discussion with the child’s parent / carer and the child. At weekends or school holidays children have more flexibility in choosing the time they go to bed.

Visits by relatives and friends are more than welcome  by prior agreement with management and your family.

All staff are aware of the fire procedure at Sunflower House and are updated regularly. Fire checks are carried out once a week. Fire drills are carried out at least four times a year.

Children are allocated a key worker. The role of the key worker is to regularly keep in touch with your child. If there are any concerns at all about visits to Sunflower House please do not hesitate to get in touch with your key worker or the manager.

Your child will have regular meetings to ensure that they are receiving the correct care package that meets your needs. Meetings are held every 3 to 6 months (plus an initial review 3 months after your child has started)

Parents, carers, social workers, a member of staff from Sunflower House, the child themselves if they wish to and possibly a reviewing officer all attend the meeting. You will receive written notification about your child’s meeting.

We try to ensure that all children enjoy their visits to us, and encourage them to tell us about any concerns they have. Alternatively, you may wish to raise any concerns on their behalf by speaking to the manager or your social worker. There is a formal complaint procedure, which can be followed. We would also like to hear if you or your child are especially pleased with any aspect of our service.

We are always looking to improve our service so we openly welcome any suggestions or comments that you are willing to make.

"the Sunflower House team have been amazing with my child’’ Quote from parent Jan 2022

"Sunflower is just amazing and my child loves coming in for stays" Quote from parent Jan 2022

Contact details


Sunflower House
6 Woodcote Putnoe
Bedford MK41 8EJ

Telephone: 01234 718107
Internal extension 49403