First Minister meets residents of pioneering ‘community care’ housing complex

Resident Ada Caldwell with the First Minister in the 'sensory room' at Varis Court
Resident Ada Caldwell with the First Minister in the ‘sensory room’ at Varis Court

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was given an official tour yesterday of one of Hanover Scotland’s brand new housing developments for older people in Moray that uses pioneering design and research to bring health care back into the community.

Developed in partnership with Health & Social Care Moray (the new Integrated Joint Board involving Moray Council and NHS Grampian) and the Scottish Government, Varis Court in Forres has used up to date thinking to create a unique development suited to the needs of older people who require varying levels of care and support.

Consisting of 33 individual flats, the complex is designed specifically to be spacious and to suit individual residents’ needs. It has a dining room, a common room and two large outdoor courtyards. Following advice from Stirling University, the complex has a ‘sensory room’ which has innovative light features and a planting area. Areas like these have been scientifically proven to improve quality of life and they create a stimulating space for residents to socialise.

During the tour Ms Sturgeon met a number of residents including Mr and Mrs Watson who spoke about their time at Varis Court and how their flat has helped to dramatically improve Mr Watson’s health. This has been aided by being able to recreate their bedroom exactly as it was in their previous home helping Mr Watson adjust to his new surroundings.

Meanwhile Ann Munn, a well-known local artist met the First Minister and proudly displayed her paintings. Mrs Munn had stopped painting for many years but moving to Varis Court inspired her to start again.

The development also features an augmented care unit with five flats providing complex health care in a homely environment, avoiding the need for unnecessary hospital stays. Developed alongside Health and Social Care Moray, the unit has qualified nurses on-hand 24/7 to support patients and provides flats that aspire to replicate the patient’s home rather than a hospital environment, aiding recovery.

Commenting after the visit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “One of the most important ways to ensure the quality of life of older people is to increase access to safe, affordable homes that enables independent living.

“I was delighted to visit Varis Court today and meet staff and residents to see first–hand how Scottish Government investment is helping older people to remain living in their own homes, safe and secure, for as long as possible.”

Helen Murdoch, Hanover Scotland chief executive, added: “We are absolutely delighted that the First Minister was able to visit Varis Court and see first-hand the expert design and thought that has gone into creating the development and bringing health care back into the community. The emphasis is very much on the residents and we have worked hard to create an environment in which they feel at home. The building itself is designed to let in as much light as possible, be easy to move from floor to floor, and with our large central courtyard there are plenty of open spaces for residents to relax and socialise.

“By working in close partnership with Health & Social Care Moray we have created a cutting-edge model for other developments in the area. The first resident will shortly move into our new development Linkwood View in Elgin, which has 30 housing with care flats.”

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