The Newcastle Labour Party manifesto (April 2019) set out an ambition for ‘More and Better Homes’. Within the manifesto there is an express belief that everyone should have the right to a decent home.
Data shows Newcastle’s population is projected to reach 311,300 by 2030 an increase of 12,400 on 2019 figures. The most significant feature in the population projections is the growth of people aged 65+ (21.5% by 2030). This increase will have implications for support services, extra housing, adaptions and other care related requirements.
Newcastle City Council has a strong commitment to ensure all residents have access to affordable housing, especially those who experience a long-term disability or who are vulnerable. Maintaining independence within a community setting has a lasting impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
For many people a move to institutional care can mean the removal of access to personal income, lead to deskilling and increase dependence. It is also more expensive in social care terms compared to providing the option of specialist accommodation.
Aligning housing needs and support services can create efficiencies and savings
Whilst population projections show an increase in the prevalence of people requiring specialist and/or supported housing, there is also a predicted rise in people living with a learning disability and/or autism. Similarly, a range of specialist accommodation is needed to replace outmoded provision, create efficiencies and savings via a better alignment of housing needs and support services.
A significant proportion of people with care needs, especially older people, enter residential care through crisis. Newcastle City Council is challenging the current care and support providers with a firm belief that suitable housing and housing services should be available to allow individual residents with care and support needs, either cognitive or physical, have a choice to maintain their independence and community links for as long as possible.
In helping to prevent, or at least delay, admissions to residential care, around 180 Assisted Living apartments, built over the past five years are estimated to have saved the Council around £300,000 p.a.
In addition, 235 new or remodelled sheltered apartments have been completed and a further 276 level access homes for older people. Over the next two years, a further 100 Assisted Living apartments are expected to be built (delivering revenue savings of circa £150,000) alongside 72 sheltered apartments and approximately 200 other level access homes.
Independent living is more than just a tenure type
Building new accommodation is only part of the solution to providing a first-class housing offer. This is why in 2019 we commissioned the Housing Learning Improvement Network (LIN) to carry out an independent review of the older person’s service offered by our Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO), Your Homes Newcastle (YHN). As a result the Housing Plus vision was developed with the following aims:
- Making living easier, so customers can focus on living their lives to the full.
- Working with partners to provide services that reduce social isolation, meet the needs of diverse groups and sustain tenancies
- Giving customers choice, independence and control; recognising there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to living a happy and healthy later life
Titled ‘More than just a roof’, this recognises independent living is more than just a tenancy, it is also important to tailor how people access the service, and the services that are offered, so that as needs change – the service offer changes. YHN are working closely with partners to develop a more streamlined offer for customers, with a planned launch in 2020-21.
Newcastle is also committed to delivering a wide range of quality supported housing options for adults with a Learning Disability and Autism as part of a ‘continuum of support’.
Two models provide a real alternative to residential care and shared living. These are Community Cluster bungalows and Concierge Plus apartments.
- Community Clusters provide bespoke care and support packages for up to six people within a ‘courtyard’ development,
- Concierge Plus offers a mixture of housing, welfare and care support for individuals with less complex needs.
These products enable people to live more independently in their communities, close to family, friends and established support and social networks.
Over the last 5 years around 86 bungalows and apartments have been built for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, delivering estimated revenue savings of around £1.7m. Over the next couple of years, a further 46 homes are to be completed, with further revenue savings of around £1.0m.
Looking and learning in the North East
Newcastle’s approach to people centred housing delivery for those with a specialist and supported housing need was picked up by the Housing LIN in the series of good practice examples. Particular praise was given for the older people’s housing scheme, ‘Tree Top Village’ in Walker, Newcastle.
Exclusively for people aged 55 plus, Tree Top Village consists of an impressive main building, offering 75 sheltered housing apartments, bordered by 36 one and two-bedroom homes and 8 bungalows with gardens, encompassing a restaurant and small retail, whilst providing a warm relaxed and friendly environment.
Designed to become the centre piece of the wider Walker Regeneration Programme, the whole development went a through a thorough development process, which had at all stages, been influenced by the immediate community and potential residents.
In 2019 recognition of the work we do, and our partnering approach, Newcastle City Council was awarded for the second year running ‘Local Authority of the Year’ at the Northern Housing Awards.
This was in recognition of our partnership working and innovative approaches to housing delivery for all tenures and needs groups. Newcastle was shortlisted for the same award in 2020, but sadly all awards ceremonies were cancelled due the pandemic.