Sheltered housing complex in South Shields to become 'extra care' facility to support people with a range of needs

Plans to upgrade a sheltered housing complex in South Tyneside have been given the green light by council bosses.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:44 pm
Blenkinsop Court.

South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet has approved plans to convert Blenkinsop Court, in South Shields, into an ‘extra care’ facility.

While plans are in the pipeline to improve the offering of adult social care accommodation across the borough, several planned new builds from the council have been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, the extra care conversion at Blenkinsop Court aims to provide an alternative to residential care placements in the borough until a bespoke facility can be built.

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“Through the development of the adult social care accommodation strategy, it has been evidenced that we do not have enough extra care places across the borough to meet current and future needs,” said Councillor Mark Walsh, cabinet member for housing and transport.

“Extra care provides good quality, secure and safe accommodation and on-site support for those with a range of care needs.”

He added: “The accommodation strategy highlights the need for three purpose-built extra care schemes in the borough which we’re working on and are in development.

“However mainly due to Covid and the current market conditions and restrictions, the development of these schemes have been delayed.

“Therefore this interim conversion provides us with the opportunity to provide an alternative whilst upgrading one of our housing plus schemes at the same time.”

Cllr Walsh was speaking at a cabinet meeting on April 14, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

Extra care housing aims to allow residents to remain independent while providing a care service to help with planned care needs and extra support in times of crisis.

Under new plans approved this week, Blenkinsop Court’s 37 flats will be adapted to the standards needed for extra care as they become vacant, including being made wheelchair friendly where possible.

Other additions to the site will include a dementia support area and a secure garden.

A report to cabinet adds the site would be suitable for extra care in the short-term, “especially to temporarily accommodate hospital discharge patients that may require some level of care and rehabilitation given its proximity to the hospital”.

Council bosses also hope the move will save £350 per week per resident, by reducing unnecessary residential placements “that can be avoided or delayed,” the report adds.

At this week’s meeting, borough bosses were keen to reassure existing Blenkinsop Court residents that they would not be impacted by the changes.

Councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, said socially-distanced meetings would be arranged with residents who have concerns.

These will be carried out by appointment-only and will involve council officers.

Cllr Hetherington added. “[It’s] just to give [residents] that reassurance that it’s still their home and they will not be expected to leave because of the conversion, which was the issue that some of them did have.”

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