Chief Executive's blog
It's Older Person's Day on 1 October
Here at Nottingham City Homes, our older residents comprise a vital constituency within our customer base. By providing the right homes and targeted services for our older residents we meet their housing needs with compassion dignity and a sense of fun, whilst freeing up much needed family homes in the city.
As well as having many older residents living in general needs housing, our specialist independent living service (ILS) comprises over 2,000 apartments and bungalows for older people, in 68 independent living communities across the city. Every ILS resident is linked through to 24/7 support through our Nottingham on Call assistive technology service, and residents also have access to adaptations to make any changes to their home that they may need to continue to enjoy living independently.
We encourage and support independent living residents to fulfil their aspirations and live a healthy, happy life. Our Needs and Risk Assessment process ensures that we capture both traditional tenancy-related questions, and also help residents to sustain activities which meet their personal aspirations. Although some of our normal activity programmes are suspended at the moment because of coronavirus, we’re usually working with partners to make sure that residents have access to a range of sports, arts and community activities that promote wellbeing and reduce loneliness through social inclusion.
In the old days, bingo was the weekly highlight for people living in what used to be called sheltered housing; but older people’s aspirations and life experiences are different nowadays - one of our tenants used to jam with John Lennon. Even Mick Jagger has a bus pass these days (for clarity, Mr Jagger is not one of our tenants - yet). Activities and social opportunities are based on what residents want, and range from armchair exercise and games afternoons to boxing sessions (yes, really), musical events and Clicksilver IT training. We also support residents in planning their own activities such as visits to the seaside, murder mystery trips, fish and chip suppers and Christmas parties. And yes – there’s still the traditional, much loved bingo for residents who want it!
During lockdown, we’ve supported our independent living residents with targeted cleaning services, and we’ve kept in touch to make sure they have the support, food, medication and help they need, and calling regularly to maintain contact and help combat social isolation caused by the pandemic. We’ve had to close our communal areas to minimise risk to residents, and we’ve paused the pop-up restaurants that we deliver in partnership with Nottingham Scouts - the Sycamore Diner uses Fareshare produce to make meals for residents, and all profits go back into the Scout Hardship Fund, which enables young people to attend camps and activities they would not otherwise be able to.
The teams that work with residents in our independent living communities see their role as a vocation, rather than a job. They form strong and positive bonds with residents, and these meaningful relationships between staff and residents contribute to the warm and welcoming atmosphere in our communities.
By next summer, all our independent living communities will have benefited from our transformational Grander Designs programme, based on Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) principles, that refurbishes and modernises communal areas. Grander Designs makes a genuine difference to people’s lives - everything is done in partnership with residents; they choose the colours and styles – turning formerly soulless spaces into warm, homely, living rooms – rooms in which residents really feel at home. Scooter stores are included where we can, as are landscaping improvements – and again, we encourage residents to get involved in outdoor activities, something which many of them did at a social distance as lockdown restrictions were eased in the summer.
A service that has continued throughout lockdown is our Housing to Health project. We work closely with health and social care partners to deliver this innovative project, which helps people out of hospital more quickly, or prevents them going in in the first place. Between November 2015 and March this year, Housing to Health avoided 313 unnecessary hospital admissions, rehoused 454 people to improve their health, and created financial value worth £7.1m.
As well as delivering new independent living developments in the city, last year we launched our first extra care centre, a £6m development that formed part of the wider transformation of an existing independent living community. Winwood Heights is Nottingham’s newest retirement village, and has attracted new residents and contributed towards the vibrancy of its neighbourhood since it opened. It offers support and 24-hour care for those who need it, allowing older and more vulnerable residents to remain living independently for longer while helping the council to provide a cost effective alternative to residential care.
Good quality homes for older residents, with a range of support and activities targeted to meet the needs and aspirations of today’s older people, have a ‘pull factor’ – they encourage people to move from the family home they’re under-occupying to live in community that feels right for them. By providing such homes, we’re better meeting the housing needs of older people and freeing up much-needed family accommodation for people on our waiting list.
30 September 2020