It is hoped that work can start in April on a new housing and care scheme with 59 spacious self-contained apartments for older people who need care and support. I haven’t had word of any delays due to the pandemic but will keep people posted.
Leeds City Council is working with partners to build and run the new care home at Windlesford Green on Holmsley Lane. The new community wellbeing centre will create a new development providing the type of supported living that local people are wanting for their future care needs.
Community wellbeing centres are also sometimes known as extra care homes because they are designed to ensure that older people are still integrated into the local community and have access to the extra care they need as their needs change. The Windlesford Green development is for 59 spacious self-contained apartments made up of 41 one and 18 two-bed apartments. It means people can continue to live independent lives in their own apartments while having round the clock care on site when they need it.
The development also includes a restaurant, café, hair and beauty salon, communal lounges, hobby areas, assisted spa, guest suite and landscaped gardens. These provide a better environment for residents and make it more attractive for visitors and the community to ensure residents aren’t isolated.
The council chose its new partners after a rigorous procurement process and the partners are led by the Home Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations, and some smaller private sector experts in providing homes and care for the elderly.
I lobbied to get this for Rothwell
Cllr James Lewis, Kippax and Methley councillor and leader-elect of Leeds City council said: “We are building a series of new homes and lots of councillors wanted them in their wards. When Karen Bruce was a Labour councillor for Rothwell she lobbied hard to present a compelling case why one should be built in her ward. She set up a local community involvement group to make sure that Rothwell’s bid for the home was based on what local people really wanted for their older people.”
The Windlesford Green development is the next generation of care for older people. Traditionally the options have been limited to care at home, sheltered housing or a residential care home. The evidence shows that it is best for older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. It’s possible to extend this period with carers calling in to provide limited care. As care needs increase eventually many older people are forced to leave their homes and move into a care home. This means they are often moving when they are weaker and more vulnerable to the challenges of changing where they live.
Community wellbeing centres mean they can move into their own apartments and enjoy lots of independence while still benefiting from on-site care and support when they need it. As their needs increase it is much easier to give them extra care as they are already on-site and don’t need to move home when they are more vulnerable.
I spent a lot of time researching to find out what community wellbeing centres and extra care homes were and if they were as good as council officers were telling me. I didn’t want to support something unless I knew it was going to be better for local older people. That’s one reason I set up the community involvement group and we visited other extra care homes so we could see for ourselves.
I was impressed that people can have a proper home and still benefit from excellent support and healthcare. Today many people don’t want to live in a traditional care home where they only have a small bedroom. The reason many older, traditional care homes are closing is they don’t have enough residents as not enough older people want to live in them and their families want them to live where they will be happier. Extra care means they have more space and somewhere private to welcome friends and family. They can bring their own furniture. It helps them to maintain their independence and remain healthier for longer. It’s important to have that choice.
Home Lea House consultation
The council is currently consulting on the possible closure of Home Lea House. I desperately want it to stay open and have spoken to several senior councillors to tell them this. However, I also understand that in the future more and more people want to live in modern purpose built communities like this new one at Windlesford Green. In a perfect world we’d have both, but the government has cut the council’s budget by about half because it wants them to cut services for people in places like Home Lea House.
The input of the Rothwell extra care community group, which I set up when I was a councillor, helped inform the council’s tender process. It means that a key aspect of Windlesford Green is how it is being built as part of the local community. It will have an open inclusive space where older people living in the home can come together with people in the wider community, rather than be isolated in a closed off care home.
Making sure older people living there and the wider community come can together in a hub to combat isolation was a key part of our vision. Hopefully, by the time Windlesford Green opens then society will have opened up again and we will all be able to come together again.
The apartments will be allocated on criteria usually based on people’s age, care and support, housing need and if people are already living in the area or have a local connection.
The delivery partners are the Home Group, Ashley House and Morgan Ashley. The Home Group is a social enterprise and one of the UK’s largest housing associations providing homes to more than 116,000 people. Ashley House specialises in delivering health and community-based construction projects, while Morgan Ashley is its specialist finance joint venture company with investment company Morgan Sindall.