Reflections on lessons learnt as 100th Extra Care scheme declared open


Dovecote Meadow official opening 1Housing & Care 21 has celebrated the official opening of its 100th specialist development bringing together housing and care services for older people.


Dovecote Meadow, a £16.3 million Extra Care development in Sunderland, was officially declared open at a ceremony on Monday, July 6. As an Extra Care scheme, it provides self-contained apartments and a range of communal facilities, with care and support services on site.


Housing & Care 21 is using this milestone as an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt so far in delivering an integrated housing and care offer for older people. Kris Peach, Director of Extra Care, said the main points to share were:


Help residents stay independent –

The aim is to create a situation in which people can remain independent – make their own choices, enjoy the privacy of their own home and a secure front door – with care and support on site which meets their individual needs and provides a reassuring ‘safety net’.


Have dementia at the centre of the offer –

With an ageing population, the number of people living with dementia is increasing significantly. When providing housing for older people, this has to be a central part of the thinking, from design of the buildings right through to planning and delivering housing and care services.


Work with others and listen –

Providing housing and care for older people brings the need to work closely with other agencies such as commissioners, local authorities and funding bodies, community ventures, charities and health bodies, not to mention the residents and their families, into sharp focus. Each will have their own insight and experience that can help shape better outcomes for older people.


Innovate, but not at the expense of getting it right –

While innovation is important, where it can drive improvement in people’s quality of live, we should be wary of innovating for its own sake. The concept of integrated housing and care is itself still relatively new and innovative, so our focus must be on getting the basics right before we look for new and different ways to do things.



“We believe passionately that the Extra Care integrated model supports independence and choice for older people,” said Kris. “We have accumulated a great deal of experience and knowledge in what works well and how to get the best outcomes since we opened our first such scheme in 1994, but there is still much to learn.


“The model is still new and developing all the time.  We are keen to share our experience so far and to work with others who share the aim of providing quality, affordable housing and care for older people, including local authorities, developers, charities and community groups to make sure that the benefits Extra Care offers can be fully realised.”


Dovecote Meadow, which was shortlisted in the Most Innovative Affordable Housing Scheme category in the 2015 Housing Innovation Awards, is part of wider development programme of housing for older people in Sunderland that represents a £110m inward capital investment.


The scheme, the largest Extra Care scheme Housing & Care 21 has delivered, provides 158 two bedroom apartments for older people and 17 one bedroom open plan specialist dementia apartments. Communal facilities include a residents’ lounge, activity / function room, restaurant, hairdressing salon, laundry, well-being suite, community-run shop, assisted bathrooms and guest accommodation.


Housing & Care 21, a not-for-profit organisation, opened its first Extra Care scheme, Bishopsfield, in Peterborough in 1994.  It now owns and manages 4,867 properties across 122* courts, providing care to 2,500 people at these schemes.


Residents were joined by local councillors and staff from Housing & Care 21 and other agencies involved in the project for a tree planting ceremony to mark the official opening. Children from a nearby school choir sang for the guests.


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