CABINET CALL: By Coun Christine Lawton
Local authorities are facing many challenges in the future, particularly around housing and social care issues.
A primary focus is establishing a link between quality retirement development and the health agenda.
South Holland is a district with an ageing population, with rising dementia and mobility problems, so we need to plan and develop accommodation to meet these needs.
We are all aware of issues of affordability for first time buyers, but may not realise the problems facing “last time buyers” who wish to downsize or need different accommodation.
Part of the answer is to increase age-specific housing of all types and across all tenures.
Extra Care Housing has become an increasingly popular form of specialist provision – it is a person’s own individual home and is not a care home in the traditional sense.
The homes are usually situated within complexes of 40 or so apartments with one or two bedrooms and on-site restaurant, shops, communal space and gardens.
Such well-designed schemes, situated within easy distance of local facilities, linked with the health and social care system, have been shown to lower hospital admissions.
The facilities also reduce social isolation and help the often frail and elderly continue to live independently, albeit with on-site support when needed.
South Holland has been identified as a priority area for such accommodation due to demographics and lack of existing supply.
We envisage a range of tenures, from low-cost rented and shared ownership to outright leasehold purchase (a sensible solution to the last-time buyer problem).
Together with housing officers, I have visited various Extra Care Residential schemes across the country and have been impressed by their quality and attention to detail.
Many residents have told me how happy they are with the facilities and the new lease of life they are enjoying.
My ambition is for South Holland to become active providers of excellent quality, affordable Extra Care accommodation which will free up existing larger housing stock and ensure that many older people enjoy independence, dignity and a good quality of life in their well-earned retirement.