Social Care Strategies is working with a developer in the north east of England to develop new purpose-built extra care housing for older people.

A guiding principle of this development is to specify and design the building in collaboration with the local authority’s social care commissioners and the support provider appointed by the commissioners. It is the job of the commissioners and operator to know what works (between them they commission and provide support in six other schemes in the borough) and the job of the developer to make sure that the new building takes full account of this knowledge.

A design team comprising architects, commissioners and provider has agreed what is needed to provide quality of life for tenants and long-term sustainability for the development itself. Key features include:

  • One-bedroom two-person flats at an average of 47 square metres
  • Two passenger lifts close to building entrances and communal facilities
  • Scooter store close to the main entrance
  • Level access to private balconies to give access to all to an outside space
  • Direct access to landscaped gardens for all ground floor flats
  • Fully accessible hard and soft landscaping, including raised beds, greenhouse and allotment
  • Flat doors recessed in alcoves to allow for personal decoration and ‘memory objects’
  • External windows at the end of each corridor, avoiding ‘close off’ spaces and allowing natural daylight and outside views
  • No enclosed (and potentially dark) hallways in flats
  • ‘Future proofed’ flat layouts, allowing for future installation of linear track hoists
  • Dividable communal space which includes a living wall
  • CAT6 hard-wired internet and high speed wi-fi throughout the building

This collaborative approach to specification and design gives confidence to everyone involved:

  • To the commissioner that it will provide a genuine alternative to residential care
  • To the operator that it will enable staff to minimise dependence on paid support
  • To the investor that people will want to live there in years to come