Council Officials Visit Mainland Elder Care Housing Schemes

School site at Carn Thomas, earmarked for elder care housing scheme

Councillors, Council officers and volunteers have been on a fact-finding trip to look at extra-care social housing and sheltered accommodation in Cornwall.

And the attendees with whom we spoke have been inspired by what they saw at accommodation in Liskeard and a Methodist charity run scheme in Saltash. Both are owned by agencies that our Council would like to talk with about partnering on a Scilly project.

Also attending the visits was Methodist minister Charlie Gibbs, who suggested several months ago that the current chapel could be sold to fund a scheme run by the Methodist Homes charity, similar to the one in Saltash.

At Saltash a former Methodist chapel was demolished to make way for the housing complex and a new chapel, and Council Chairman Mike Hicks was impressed with the scheme, describing it as “excellent.” And he said having it centred around the Methodist chapel meant that there was a mixture of ages using the site, adding to the community feel, rather than creating a ‘ghetto’ for elderly residents.

On the downside, the design was thought to be inappropriate for Scilly, with narrow corridors that weren’t practical for wheelchairs and made the mainland buildings seem institutional.

Mike says it is important to learn from others’ design errors made at the mainland centres.

The Saltash example is technically still sheltered accommodation but many attendees were impressed by Methodist Homes and Charlie would like them to come over to begin discussions. He says if the feedback is positive then a church meeting will need to be called.

Aisling Hick from the Council says the aim of elder care is to provide flexible accommodation for elderly residents of all ages and needs.

With traditional sheltered housing you would need to move to another scheme if your care requirement went above a certain level. At Carn Thomas, the aim is for people requiring medical and dementia support to be supported in their own homes and they’d share the site with able-bodied, elderly islanders living independently.

All properties would have their own front door and individual address, says Aisling, with room for staying relatives and a pleasant view.

The brief will be for 20 to 40 totally separate units. 40 is the minimum viable number for a mainland development.

Aisling says the best extra care housing role model they have seen is Marina Court in Tewkesbury. She says the staff, facility and atmosphere is excellent.

The Council has hired one of their team, Jill Kearsley, as a consultant, with funding for her role coming from the Department for Health.

Aisling says the next step to bringing the Carn Thomas plans to fruition will be finding a partner who will accept the additional costs of development here in Scilly.

The Homes and Communities Agency don’t view the additional 35% on the build cost as good value for money and Aisling says they want to add extras like staff rooms and treatment rooms into the costs.

Mike Hicks says there may be another chance to apply for HCA cash in September.