A SENSE OF HOME IS AT THE HEART OF NEW £10.5M NURSING CARE CENTRE AT WHITELEY VILLAGE
8 October 2019.A new £10.5M nursing care centre for older people has just opened at the Whiteley Village retirement community in Walton on Thames, Surrey – the provider of 25% of the specialist social housing for older people in the borough of Elmbridge. Named after the first resident to move to the village when it opened in 1917, the 30-suite Eliza Palmer Hub is among the most innovative care facilities in the UK, blending clinical support with a major emphasis on social interaction amongst the whole village community.
Prominently positioned at the heart of the village, the distinctive octagonal building features the stylish conservatory-style Lantern Café as a social hub for all residents, as well as a hair salon, therapy and consulting rooms and 30 studios for residents needing higher levels of support.Led by residents, Whiteley Village is active in recognising loneliness and taking action to support each other – and this was a pivotal consideration in deciding to locate the key social facilities of the village at the Eliza Palmer Hub, encouraging greater interaction between those residents living independently in the village and those who need more care.
Designed by Levitt Bernstein and Francis Roberts Architects, the residential facilities of the two–storey building challenge the traditional nursing home model.A central, communal open-plan kitchen and living area is the focal point on each floor, with adjacent bedrooms enabling a sense of connection that is lacking in many nursing homes as Chandra McGowan, Chief Executive, The Whiteley Homes Trust, explains. “Our ethos is that life is for living so that, even if your health or mobility is restricted, it doesn’t mean you can’t engage with the normal rhythms of the day going on around you.Just as the kitchen is the heart of every home, the design makes interaction around food as easy and normal as possible.Many memories are evoked by the different senses associated with mealtimes and staying connected to a sense of home makes all the difference to quality of life. The sad reality for many UK nursing home residents is that their world is overly confined to their bedroom, whereas our approach is to create spaces and interaction where friendships can flourish.
“Respect for the individual is central to our personalised care strategy.At the heart of this is the understanding that our residents have lived their lives, usually in a mutually supportive “family” unit, until the point of acknowledging a need for more help. We are determined to enable them to continue doing as much as possible for themselves - and for others. Where our residents have the capacity and desire to take control over their lives, we will do everything we can to help them maintain their own independence as well as providing opportunities for them to contribute.This reflects the wider ethos of the village and why the Hub is so key to enhancing opportunities for mutual support within our community.“
This approach is also reflected in the landscape. A new courtyard in the heart of the care centre offers private and sheltered external space with attractive plant beds to encourage residents to get outdoors.
The Eliza Palmer Hub was facilitated with loan funding from ethical banks Unity Trust Bank and Triodos Bank and was constructed by Castleoak, design and build specialists to the care sector. Whiteley Village is owned by Whiteley Homes Trust, a charity providing affordable housing for over 400 pensioners of limited financial means.The majority live in almshouses or extra care apartments, with their rent funded through Housing Benefits and social services for care costs.Set in 225 acres of parkland, the village was created in 1917 at the behest of the philanthropist William Whiteley who left £1million in his will to create a dedicated community for the ‘elderly poor.’ ENDS
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Notes to editors
The Eliza Palmer Hub is only part of the charity’s longer-term sustainability strategy. Over the coming months it will be working with Elmbridge Borough Council and Surrey County Council to find ways to increase its provision of social housing with care for older people.Central to this strategy is the ability to construct a mix of innovative, affordable homes. The mix of affordable and privately owned properties is a critical element of the future finances of the Trust and its ability to continue to deliver the legacy of its founder William Whiteley.
The Trust is therefore currently reviewing feasibility options to unlock a future potential development strategy as part of the Elmbridge Local Plan. Reflecting the lack of local provision, Whiteley Homes Trust alone is already providing 25% of specialist housing for older people in the borough of Elmbridge.National forecasts predict a 40% increase in the over 70-population by 2030.
The plans from Whiteley Homes Trust are in keeping with several recommendations from The Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN) published in August 2019*.The report,“ Identifying the Health Care System Benefits of Housing with Care”, cited a growing strategic focus amongst councils to encourage independence and community based solutions to care, decreasing local authorities’ reliance on residential care and to promote more options and choice for people with care needs in later life.The report details how this approach benefits the health care economy to the tune of £2000 estimated saving per person* thanks to a reduction in the number of GP and community nursing visits, ambulance call-outs and reduction in hospital stays. A research finding that reflects the daily experience that Whiteley Village and its residents have already noted as the provider of the first extra care scheme in Surrey 15 years ago. The new Surrey County Council commissioning plan 2019/20 supports further development of housing with care and Whiteley is keen to play a major role in filling that need.
In 2016 the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)3 identified an immediate shortfall of 239 extra-care units in Elmbridge4, and over the period 2015-35 a need for all forms of specialised housing for the elderly, amounting to 1,326 units, or 66 units p.a5. Set against this rising need, in the period 2011-17, only 59 sheltered units were completed, and no extra-care unit.
Link to Housing LIN report: tiny.cc/k5gddz