Design is at the heart of new South Shields care hub

An artist's impression of the �9million care hub which will open next year.
An artist's impression of the �9million care hub which will open next year.

Memory boxes and special colour schemes are part of the vision for the new care hub for the elderly in South Shields.

Bosses say innovative design will be at the centre of the £9million Integrated Care Services Hub, which opens next year to offer support to the borough’s older population, particularly those with dementia.

Latest research and thinking is being incorporated in the design of the unit, which is being built in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of South Tyneside Council, to offer residential, day care and respite care.

Features will include “memory boxes” – a box of personal objects and mementoes – to help people find their rooms and stimulate memory and specialised colour schemes.

The outdoor environment is core to the design, with gardens where residents can sit and eat and even do some gardening.

Objects such as telephone boxes, bus stops and park benches will be placed outside to prompt memories and stimulate the mind.

Councillor Mary Butler, lead member for adult social care and support services, said: “This pioneering centre – which we believe will be the largest of its kind in the country – will provide a safe and secure environment for our older people with carefully designed clusters and defined boundaries.

“Features such as reassuring handrails, colour contrasting doors and walls, colour matching flooring to reduce trips and falls, good lighting and cushioned floor finishes will all support older people to find their way around this building and encourage confidence.”

Steve Williamson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive, said: “Our aim from the outset has been to create a facility where older people, including those with dementia, can feel safe and supported in a warm, welcoming environment.

“The cutting edge features which will be incorporated will ensure it is seen as a beacon for excellent care for older people and their families and carers.”