A NEW £9m state-of-the-art medical and social care centre is set to revolutionise how elderly people are looked after in South Tyneside.
Council chiefs have awarded a contract for a new Integrated Care Services Hub to be built by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust in the grounds of the borough’s District Hospital.
The new 80-bed building is seen as crucial in how the borough deals with both an ageing population and an increasing number of people affected by dementia.
About 30 older people will live on the site, while others will have access to beds for short breaks when their carers are on holiday or before going back to live at home.
Work on the new building is set to start later this year with completion earmarked for early 2016.
As part of today’s announcement, council officials have also said this will lead to the eventual closure of Connolly House, a 36-bed residential care home, predominantly for people with dementia, based in Reynolds Avenue, Whiteleas.
There are 26,853 older people in the borough – 18 per cent of the population – but that is expected to increase to 21 per cent by 2021.
Coun Allan West, formerly the council’s lead member for adult social care, said the creation of the new hub was a “cause for celebration”.
He said: “I feel a sense of personal excitement. We have put years of hard work into this and it was a privilege to be involved in the project.
“Just like the rest of the UK, South Tyneside has an ageing population. However, here in South Tyneside we know there will be a 50 per cent increase in dementia across all ages by 2030 and a 138 per cent increase among people over 90.
“This new hub is about making sure we have the service and facilities to meet that growing need.”
The focus of the new centre is to improve well-being of older people, especially those with dementia, and to offer as much support as possible to enable them to live independently in their community, with appropriate support, for as long as possible.
Coun West added: “The hub will join up a range of services, meaning older people and their families and carers can access all the support they need from one place.
“It will also house a range of additional complementary services to support clients and enhance their well-being.
“We see this building as a focal point for the community which will integrate health and social care.
“People will be able to find a range of services, access the support they need and see it as somewhere they can pop in and then go home.”
Helen Watson, the council’s corporate director for children adults and families, described the hub as “pioneering” and said South Tyneside is recognised as one of only 14 integrated ‘health and social care pioneers’ in the country.
She said: “What we are doing here is a first for the region. This is a project which will attract national attention. Enhancing the existing offer was critical.
“We have a fantastic working partnership with the Foundation Trust and our other partners in the scheme and this will prove to be a state-of-the-art hub offering universal services, from information and advice to day care, telecare, respite services and end-of-life care.
“This is an opportunity to bring one cohesive offer in one place. It’s a phenomenal offer.”
Lorraine Lambert, the chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to have this wonderful opportunity to work in partnership with the council and key health, social care and voluntary sector agencies to really drive forward improvements in joined-up care for older people as we go forward.
“We know that we are expecting to see increasing numbers of older people living longer and we fully intend to play our part in delievering the best support for them that enables them to have the best quality of life possible and to make choices at every stage about what they feel is best for them.
“This ground-breaking scheme is an important stage in our plans to further enhance and develop our facilities for elderly care over the next five years and, together with the development of a centre of excellence for the care of elderly in our main block at South Tyneside District Hospital, we will see major investment in, and development of services for this very important group of patients.”
Steve Williamson, chief operating officer with the borough’s NHS trust, pledged to engage with health staff over the coming months over the exact design of services.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has taken out a £9m loan to cover the cost of the building, Mr Williamson revealed.
The hub will also have space for pre-bookable respite care and help to use technological aids to support independent living, in addition to rooms for medical consultations and assessment of people’s needs.