Elderly Hebburn man says new care centre development plans are causing ‘worry’ for ‘frightened residents’
A South Tyneside man has spoken of ‘frightened’ fellow residents at an elderly care centre in Hebburn where he currently resides, and of the ‘worry’ brought by plans to knock down and develop the facility.
Jeff Taylor, 80, has lived at Lincoln Court for three years and says he ‘never expected to move out of here while still alive’.
This now looks set to happen, however, under plans to develop a new ‘extra care’ facility at the Hebburn site.
South Tyneside Council agreed to ‘decommission’ the 30-flat residence in favour of a new development project which, the council’s housing strategy chief said, would create ‘more accommodation for those who need extra care to prevent them going into residential care’.
Extra Care accommodation is designed to promote a greater degree of independent living for elderly people.
A council spokesperson said the authority understands it is an unsettling time for tenants and it is ‘working with residents to find them new homes that meet their specific needs while the new development is built’.
But Mr Taylor said the acceleration of the Lincoln Court proposals and the local authority’s communication approach have been distressing for residents.
"The council had a meeting on the Wednesday [November 4] night, and we got the letter on the Thursday morning saying it was to be demolished,” he said.
"No consultation, no early warning, no nothing – just thrown at us.”
Mr Taylor also believes residents’ needs have been overlooked in the progression of the plans.
"I really don’t think the council has thought about the people who are going to be moving out,” he told The Gazette.
"I’m sight-impaired. So I’m looking for a two-bedroom bungalow, as there might come the day when I need a live-in carer as well.
“The eldest [resident] I’m aware of is 96 and the youngest person here is around 55.
“When you listen to some of the conversations, you can tell the worry that some of the residents have got. There are some frightened residents at Lincoln Court.
"I just feel that once you get over 60 or 70, you’re a forgotten generation.”
A council spokesperson said: “We appreciate this is an unsettling time for tenants and will continue to work with them.
"This decision will ultimately provide a new state-of-the-art Extra Care accommodation which we believe will better meet the long term needs and aspirations of older people in Hebburn.
"Eligible tenants will be given the opportunity to return to the new Extra Care accommodation once complete if they wish to do so.”
The spokesperson added: "Once a decision had been made by Cabinet we hand-delivered letters to the affected tenants. We also made sure known officers were on hand to support residents at that time and answer questions.
"We have experience in delivering projects of this nature and are committed to supporting tenants through this process. We are at the very early stages of this development, of which consultation with residents will form an integral part.
"We are currently working with residents to find them new homes that meet their specific needs while the new development is built.”