Plans to convert Blenkinsop Court in South Shields into an ‘extra care’ facility to be discussed next week

An expanded scheme to get vulnerable patients out of hospital faster could be given the green light next week.

Plans to convert Blenkinsop Court in South Shields to be discussed next week
Plans to convert Blenkinsop Court in South Shields to be discussed next week

Town hall chiefs are expected to approve plans to convert Blenkinsop Court, in South Shields into an ‘extra care’ facility.

It is hoped the stopgap project will provide an alternative to residential care for families leaving wards until a bespoke purpose-built offering delayed by the coronavirus pandemic can be completed.

According to a report for South Tyneside Council: “It has been evidenced that we do not have enough extra care places across the borough to meet current and future needs.

“The lack of extra care places has resulted in too many people being placed in residential care and an increasing number of people living at home with high care needs.

“Extra care accommodation is often a better alternative to residential care, allowing the person the independence of having their own home and tenancy agreement but also having on site 24hr care to support them with their planned care needs and to provide additional support in times of crisis.”

Members of the borough council’s ruling cabinet are due to meet on Wednesday (April 14) to vote on the proposals.

The council’s adult social care strategy has identified a need for three new ‘extra care’ facilities, with new-build projects originally slated for completion this financial year (2021/22).

However, delays caused by the COVID-19 outbreak have pushed this back to 2022/23 at the earliest, raising concerns about strains on the system in the meantime.

The latest plans will see Blenkinsop Court’s 37 flats adapted to the standards needed for extra care, such as wheelchair access, as they become vacant, as well as additions including a dementia support area and a secure garden.

Council bosses also hope the move will save £350 per week per resident, by reducing unnecessary residential placements after hospital stays.

Cllr Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, said: “We understand that people are keen to leave hospital and return home as soon as possible.

“With the pandemic, it is also vital that we help the NHS to keep as many beds free as possible for those really needing to stay in hospital.”

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