• Will Purvis outside Brent Court

    The importance of independent living

    Today Councillor Leo Madden officially opened Brent Court, a £12 million extra care facility in Milton. Housing for older people might not sound like the most interesting or exciting of subjects, but it’s all too easy to miss how important this kind of housing is.

    Image courtesy of Calford Seaden

    Most older people want to stay living in their own home. This doesnt usually just mean the exact house they own, it means living in their local community, amongst their family and friends and most importantly, living independentally. Unfortunately, as people get older and their needs for care and support increase this can be extremely difficult to manage.

    I know this from my own family experience. As my father got more and more ill it became increasingly difficult to provide him with the level of care he needed to stay in our family home. Even with the help of our whole family and professional carers, it was a constant struggle to give him a comfortable environment where he felt safe and secure and with the support on hand whenever he needed it. The last thing he wanted was to ‘go in to a care home’. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that there are wonderful care homes out there, I admit I have little experience of them myself, but my father was determined that he did not want to go in to one. So we had to battle on supporting him as long as we could until his medical needs outstripped our ability to care for him at home.

    So what is so special about Extra Care? Well firstly its not a care home. It is purpose built apartments, designed esecially for the needs of older people and with care and support on hand. It means that older people can stay living in their ‘own home’ independently but with the care and support there whenever they need it. Having the prper facilities there to support carers makes a huge difference and with communal facilities as well residents don’t have to feel isolated. By building this sort of accomodation in our local area older people can stay livng in their local community wih their friends and family as a support network around them and the professional care standing by whenever they need it.

    Some people may ask why this matters to them? Some people have even said that the last thing we need is more flats in Milton. But think about this for a moment…

    Many older people currently live in larger properties, maybe 3 or 4 bedroom but use only 1, because this has been their family home. As these people downsize to move into this specialist accommodation they free up the larger properties desperately needed by families in our area.  On top of this, older people are less likely to drive cars, or at least to do so infrequently. This reduces traffic and actually benefits local business as they tend to prefer not to travel to shop.

    Whether you see it as a moral imperitive to support the older generation, whether you want to see housing stock freed up or whether you think that it will benefit the local economy, it is difficult not to see the benefits of Extra Care accommodation to the whole local community. So, exciting it may not be, but this development opening is an important step for our community!