Housing an ageing population

The provision of additional elderly care housing is one of the biggest social challenges currently facing the UK.

All future projections point to a serious shortage of new accommodation. The current range of interested parties who rightly claim to have a direct or indirect role in fulfilling demand is wide and varied. The impact on other agencies, dealing with the direct and indirect consequences of an ageing population is escalating. Historically, a situation has developed where in spite of best intentions, central grant funding and vested interests, the delivery of accommodation to fulfil this acknowledged demand has been poor.

So what is the solution? At its heart has to be an innovative, holistic and cohesive effort on the part of all those involved such as the Partnership approach promoted by Ashley House plc the leading health and community care property partner.  Ashley House has a growing pipeline of schemes which provide housing and care to some of the most vulnerable people in the UK.

Strategic Partnership

Last year Ashley House opened its second Extra Care scheme in Grimsby. The scheme, a culmination of four years of work, was delivered through Ashley House’s strategic partnership with North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (NELCCG) and the local Council. The programme, which includes a registered provider, a substantial investment fund, Architect and Builder, clearly demonstrated how partnership working between the private and public sectors can bring real benefits to society.

This partnership approach is part of a growing national trend helping local councils fulfil their statutory obligation for new housing. It recognises the need for extra care accommodation as a superior alternative to residential care homes, as it is demonstrably cheaper and provides better health outcomes. Grimsby’s new extra care building has been specifically designed to help elderly people keep their independence as each of the 60 flats has its own front door whilst allowing them access to services such as a restaurant, personal care and support, all in one place.

“Keeping their independence is extremely important to most people as they get older,” explained Jake Rollin, the then Assistant Director of Care and Independence at NELCCG. “The residents are people with significant care needs who might otherwise have been looking at having to move into a residential care home. Instead, each person or couple has a purpose designed apartment with their own front door with a professional team on hand to support them with daily health and wellbeing needs. The environment and architecture of this amazing new build is completely geared up to supporting them to carry out daily tasks themselves which is something most people hold very dear.”

A panel of professionals set the criteria for entry to the scheme (which was oversubscribed) based on quality of life improvements and efficiencies for the whole health and social care system. The development results in less intensive and less expensive packages of home care and also reduces unnecessary care home and hospital admissions.

The scheme demonstrates a joined up approach to health, living and wellbeing from NELCCG and the Council together taking a holistic view on health and housing culminating in the provision of well designed, modern and practical apartments for local older people with clear health benefits. The development provides independent living in a high specification, purpose-built development providing a superior standard of life to the alternative of residential care homes as well as contributing to the regeneration of one of the poorest areas of Grimsby.

Positive outcomes

This partnership approach is a strong advert for the positive results that can be delivered when housing providers, local authorities and health and social care professionals all work together. One year on from opening, on-going research from the Whole Systems Partnership, working with Leeds University compared outcomes with a control group of people in the community with similar needs. Initial findings have found net savings estimated at £260k per annum with net reductions in the levels of needs for residents along with lower deaths and mental health episodes.

To discuss the issues raised in this article, email Maggie Rafalowicz, maggie@campbelltickell.com