Opinion

Building better lives through housing with care

Maxine Espley, Executive Director Care & Support, GreenSquareAccord

GreenSquareAccord was created following a merger between two housing associations both of which had a long history of providing homes, meeting need and supporting communities. We deliver a significant level of diverse care and support services which are at the very heart of who we are, and how we deliver our goal of “Building Better Lives”

We’re not alone – many Housing Associations have recognised that providing a home is a critical starting point, but to truly enhance the quality of life for our customers, to promote independence and enable people to be active members of the communities in which they live, many also need vital care and support services.

This was more evident than ever during our response to Covid-19 and despite the many challenges, our services have continued to deliver care, and kept our customers as safe as possible. The pandemic also created greater need to support the health and wellbeing of our wider customer base through further integration of our housing and care offer. For example, developing joint approaches to tackling loneliness and isolation, offering practical support to enable people to maintain their independence and providing specialist advice to colleagues.

One of our models which encapsulates how housing and care solutions can successfully support those with some of the most complex needs is Arden Grove, our specialist dementia housing with care service.

Arden Grove was developed through a partnership with Coventry City Council to deliver a vision of a specialist model to provide housing and flexible care and support for people living with dementia. Many of our first occupants had been living in more traditional non-specialist residential care settings or in housing that was no longer meeting their needs.

Our housing model at Arden Grove includes fully self-contained individual apartments as well as shared household living space comprising of dining, kitchen, and lounge facilities. This creates options for our customers to balance the time shared with others as well as maintaining their own private space. Each apartment looks out over the shared courtyard to create the sense of community, and the use of technology enables us to maximise independence.

The care offer promotes a person-centred approach, and each care package is focused on the individual and their needs and goals.  The model recognises that each customer will have a unique set of needs, wishes and aspirations and for many, the simplest of tasks are an important stepping stone. Data provides insight to some of the tangible successes of the model including the cognitive benefits and improved health outcomes. However, when family members visit, the impact is evident, as they are genuinely surprised to see the transformation of their loved one and how past interests and everyday tasks are once again being embraced.

Arden Grove is just one example of many across the country where housing and care models are delivering positive outcomes for individuals by providing the key aspects of someone’s needs. For the housing and care sectors there is an emerging realisation that there is co-dependency of many of our priorities and that integrated models can lead to a more holistic approach towards health and well-being for our customers and our wider communities.

Covid-19 has no doubt changed the landscape of social care but as we emerge from the past 18 months there is an opportunity to ensure that the agenda moves beyond the integration of health and social care to also recognise the role of housing as a critical contributor to social care reform

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