At Signature Living, we’re passionate about the experience we offer our guests and customers. We strive to ensure that everyone’s Signature experience is a special one.
In 2016, The Shankly Hotel became the first autism friendly hotel in Liverpool. And we’re setting out to spread the message, helping the city to develop a better understanding of this lifelong disability.
Our staff at The Shankly and the hotel’s Bastion Bar & Restaurant attended specialist training and awareness programs. This equipped our staff to develop the skills and understanding required to adapt and assist autistic guests and their families.
Recently, we had a lovely little boy and his parents join us for a stay at The Shankly. And our very own Adam Garvey was able to put his training to the test and engage appropriately and effectively, leaving plenty of smiles on faces!
So, we sat down with Adam to find out a little more about his training and most recent experience…
What does it mean to be an autism friendly hotel?
Basically, where it all started was when we got invited to a training session and when we went along there was a lady there and her son was autistic. She explained about how to deal with certain situations, coping with outbursts and things like that. Something that you would never ever know unless you lived with someone or knew someone with autism.
To work here knowing what we learnt, you can now see, things come to light now when guests come in and it’s being able to adapt to those guest’s needs so that they have the same experience as everybody else.
What did the training that you received involve?
It pretty much focused around her story of how she’s experienced her son growing up and noticed behavioural differences and things like that. And then obviously she was trained and went to mentoring on how to deal with her son and how to calm him down, just to make them as happy as they can be by learning more about what they need.
What happened with the little boy that came to The Shankly Hotel last week?
Yeah so, he was staying with his family because the hotel has jacuzzi baths. He can’t get a shower because he doesn’t like water on his head as it makes him distressed and things like that. Now, he was put into an accessible room, which only had a shower. On his booking, it wasn’t mentioned that he didn’t like showering, so we never knew this. They just presumed that every room had a jacuzzi.
So, when they came to the desk his mum told me about the situation, she wasn’t complaining, she was lovely. She just wanted to let me know that obviously he’s not had the experience that they thought he would. And straight away I knew he was autistic, before his mum actually told me.
To try and rectify the disappointment of him not having the jacuzzi, I thought how can I make it better? And then that’s when I spoke to the little boy and asked him what he likes. He said he really loves Toy Story. So his mum said they were going shopping for a bit and would be back to see me to pay the car parking. So I thought in that time frame, go out, get something for when he comes back.
And his little face when he came back! I just walked over with the Disney bag and he literally shot up off his chair. He didn’t even know what was in it, he was just really excited!
It’s so great that your training has helped you to recognise these things without having to be told…
Yeah, I think with illnesses and disabilities, you know, there’s loads of things that go on, that you don’t always know about. They’re not always visible. I mean we could have a guest in a wheelchair or on crutches and that’s visible. But with mental illnesses and things like that you just don’t know unless you’re told or trained on what to expect.
Is there anything you’d advise people to do to gain a better understanding of autism?
For me its so beneficial. Personally, I don’t know anyone who is autistic. So, for me, I was thinking whats the point. But that was the point. To be able to see a situation and notice it, that’s everything. His mum and dad were so surprised when I told them that I had been trained and that I knew how to deal with situations like it, they were over the moon. I knew how to speak to him and everything. They couldn’t believe it. And they were even more shocked that the Shankly is an autism friendly hotel, because it is something that is quite rare.
The Shankly was the first autism friendly hotel and there are a few more now in Liverpool, but it’s still very rare. Would you agree?
Yeah definitely. For us to get the certificate, I think there was about 50 of us that did the training and all of us where literally gob smacked with what was being said because you just don’t realise that these things go on.
What would you say the main skill is that the training gave you?
Just being able to make that guest happy. I now know how to communicate with that guest and how to be with them, whereas, before I could have said something totally wrong and could have upset him and thankfully that didn’t happen.
So, I think in the future, across all of our sites it would amazing if we could have that training. And you know, it wasn’t just me who would have seen that little boy, the housekeepers could have, the restaurant staff, so I think its important that everyone learns these skills.
Looking to the future, do you think this is something that should be implemented across all of our sites?
Yes definitely. Because I mean, that little boy will go home and tell is friends. His parents will tell other parents and it’ll start to sell itself really.
If you’re planning a stay with us and someone in your group is autistic, please don’t hesitate to get in touch beforehand and let us know of any particular requirements. Our team are always on hand to listen and assist.
In the meantime, why not check out our latest job vacancies? We’re always on the lookout for talented, hardworking staff with a Signature sparkle.