Scottish Borders Council to consider programme of extra care housing provision

Dovecot Court Peebles
Dovecot Court in Peebles

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee will be asked to commit to assisting the development of extra care housing across the region at a meeting next week.

It is being proposed that around 150 new extra care homes could be developed as part of a partnership programme with registered social landlords (RSLs) over the course of the Strategic Housing Investment Plan for 2017-2022, although some may not be completed until after that period.

The council said a major investment of around £40 million in the housing model will make a significant contribution to the care and support of elderly and vulnerable adults across the Scottish Borders.

Currently out for public consultation, the council’s Local Housing Strategy recognises that a key element of tackling housing need and demand is to enable independent living across all vulnerable groups and older people. This reflects the council’s policy commitment of shifting the balance of care by reducing the proportion of institutional care packages and increasing the proportion of care provided through extra care housing and housing with care.

Councillor Frances Renton, SBC’s executive member for social work and housing, said: “Increasing the number of older people who are assisted to live at home can be achieved by increasing the supply and availability of extra care housing as alternatives to current residential care home provision.

“To this end we are aiming to build upon the strong co-operation of our housing partners and support from Scottish Government to help fund, develop and deliver extra care housing schemes across the Scottish Borders.

“It is estimated that over 60 per cent of people going into residential care could have avoided or delayed this if extra care housing had been available in their area and our proposed programme can help contribute to meeting the needs of the growing elderly population of the region going forward.

“This is a significant proposal, involving the delivery of a large number of homes in key locations across the Scottish Borders. This would have a very positive impact, not only for those people needing this type of care but also, during the build phase in particular, for the local economy.”

It is proposed that the first sites to be developed will be Todlaw at Duns, a site owned by SBC and on which 30 homes would be delivered by Trust Housing Association, and Langhaugh in Galashiels, which is owned and would be developed by Eildon Housing Association with 30 extra care houses.

Councillor Renton added: “Research has identified the need for 230 extra care houses in the Scottish Borders by 2020, and while the proposed programme falls short of that total, there is potential for the numbers to increase once detailed site feasibility studies are carried out. There is also the possibility of other funding becoming available in due course which could enable the delivery of more homes.”

It is anticipated that the proposed extra care housing developments will be funded using the Affordable Housing Investment Programme grant from Scottish Government, private sector borrowing by the RSLs and anticipated contributions from the council from 2nd Homes/Council Tax budget and Affordable Housing Policy Developer Contributions.

Extra care housing offers the possibility of supporting higher levels of dependency but also providing an environment for lively and active old age. It is based on self-contained flats, rather than small rooms as in residential care, and offers care and support at the same level as residential care, for those that need it, available 24 hours a day.

Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Housing Association, said: “We are looking forward to working with Scottish Borders Council to deliver another high quality extra care housing development for the Borders in Galashiels, building on our experience at Dovecot Court in Peebles.

“Extra care housing is an excellent model of housing for older people and we support the council’s strategy in developing these schemes to address the demographic challenges that we face. Eildon is committed to increasing the provision of new build homes of all kinds across the Borders to meet housing need and support the local economy.”

Trust Housing Association’s chief executive, Rhona McLeod, added: “We are very proud of Trust’s extra care housing offer – a recent independent review confirmed how highly valued this service is by commissioners and tenants alike.

“It is a flexible and responsive way of providing those with high care needs a very personalised package of support. Customers can continue to live independently at home, often avoiding the need for hospital admission or long term residential care. We are delighted with this potential opportunity to work with Scottish Borders Council to grow our service.”

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