Just weeks after being shortlisted for two prestigious awards, The Elms Extra Care development in Chester-le-Street, Durham, has been visited by the Homes and Communities Agency.
A delegation, drawn from the North-East, Yorkshire and the Humber, toured the £6.5m flagship development, which is owned and managed by Cestria Community Housing, part of the Isos Group.
A state-of-the-art scheme for those aged 55 and over who require support with their care or housing, The Elms has already been acknowledged as an example of best practice in its field.
Now, it has been shortlisted in the 2016 Northern Regional Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards and the Constructing Excellence North-East (CENE) Awards, where it has been nominated for the “value” category in recognition of its impact on users, the built environment and the wider community.
Built by Keepmoat, The Elms received £1.85m of funding from the Department of Health’s Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund (CASSHF) which is administered by the HCA.
And during their visit the HCA delegation saw how Cestria responded to the requirements of the fund with a development that is tuned to local need and demand.
Assistant director of Development and Property for Isos, Zoey Hawthorne, explained how, against a backdrop of one of the highest ageing demographics in the North-East, the scheme was driven by the need to provide greater flexibility for residents, enabling them to remain as independent and active as possible in their own homes.
In particular, The Elms’ 52 apartments and six bungalows have been designed to be “care ready”, with the flexibility to increase the level of support as residents’ health needs change.
The building’s layout and communal facilities – which include an on-site café, hairdressing salon, community allotment and community exhibition space – have also been designed in direct response to the key recommendations of the Government’s HAPPI (Housing and Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) report which aims to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle among the over 55s.
Properties are available through a mix of outright sale, rent and shared ownership and support is delivered through a “pool of care services” incorporating on-site staff, overnight staff and tailored individual care packages, plus the availability of 24-hour care on call.
Zoey said: “The Elms has proved to be a highly successful model, coupling a range of ‘ownership’ options with a comprehensive package of care options and that success has translated into a rapid uptake of properties.
“Within a few short months The Elms has also made huge strides in integrating with the local community, remaining true to one of the main planks of the scheme – that residents can remain independent and active within their own homes without the need to move away from their support network of family, friends and neighbours.”
North-East area manager for the Homes and Communities Agency, Karen Anderson, said the visit was a valuable opportunity for HCA staff to see an Extra Care scheme in operation, adding: “One of the requirements of the CASSHF is for schemes to incorporate the Government’s HAPPI principles and The Elms is a particularly good example of this being put into practice.”