Plans have been announced to bring an innovative and comprehensive housing and care scheme to the elderly of north Northumberland.
The Abbeyfield Society plans to invest £13 million on a ‘hub and spokes’ supported housing model which will ensure that the elderly of Alnwick and its surrounding rural and coastal communities will have the greatest possible choice in affordable and adaptable care.
The volunteers who head three of its existing houses and homes in the area have been the driving force behind the new vision of how Abbeyfield can respond to the increase in the area’s over 75’s population.
Whereas the national growth in this age group between 2012 and 2022 is expected to be 30%, the figure for north Northumberland is expected to be significantly more at 40%.
“As local volunteers with the interests of the older people in our community at the very heart of what we do, we understand that the needs of the over 65’s in this area are changing and that it is our responsibility to respond to that,” said Dave Miller, chair of Abbeyfield’s Bamburgh Society.
“We know that Abbeyfield wouldn’t be able to cope with increased demand in our existing houses and homes and nor is there enough suitable accommodation generally in this area.
“As a charity that has been housing and supporting the elderly of north Northumberland for nearly 35 years, we are determined to continue to play our part by providing excellent facilities of which everyone in this area can be proud. That is what these plans are all about.”
Known as the North Northumberland Family of Abbeyfield Project, the proposed scheme will involve transforming Abbeyfield’s existing care facilities at Ravenslaw in Alnwick into a state-of-the-art housing and support ‘hub’ with 24-hour care that will also provide care at home for local elderly residents who choose to stay in their own homes.
The charity’s plans also include the redevelopment of a significant site in Alnwick, on which it is in the final stages of negotiation, and which will offer a number of supported living apartments that will be designed to give elderly resident’s as much independence as possible.
The ‘spokes’ in Abbeyfield’s plans will be relatively small sheltered houses in the rural and coastal areas surrounding Alnwick which, although rooted in their local communities, will be able to make the most of activities and care at the central ‘hub’.
Funding for the Family of Abbeyfield project will come from a variety of sources and includes a £1.5 million grant for the Government’s Homes and Community Agency.
The project will involve a merger between the local Abbeyfield societies at Alnwick, Bamburgh and Berwick into the national Abbeyfield Society, a move that has been supported by the volunteer Trustees from each Society.
David said: “I think we all recognise that together and with the support of Abbeyfield nationally we can achieve far more for the elderly of North Northumberland than any of us could alone.”
Amanda Gilboy, Abbeyfield’s Director for the north, said: “Our plan is to create a project that will place Alnwick at the forefront of care standards in the UK. Of course this means change, but our number one priority will be reducing disruption to residents and staff.
“Of course jobs will be created during construction, but ultimately we are confident that this proposal will also bring more long term jobs to the area.”