The Lovat Fields Village in Milton Keynes shows how better housing can transform the lives of older people, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said this week.
On Monday the minister met with some of the 350 residents at the purpose-built retirement village in Willen.
Mr Hopkins said he was impressed with the first-rate affordable accommodation, coupled with the free exercise programmes and other activities run for the well-being of residents. Residents can try their hand at woodwork, jewellery making, knitting, or even a spot of curling.
The development integrates the provision of care for those who need it and has developed an award winning programme for caring for those with dementia.
Specialist staff known as Locksmiths work with residents to ‘unlock’ their memories and help them enjoy life to the full. The results are clear: residents of the villages with dementia are 50% less likely to have to move into a care home.
Local people can also use the gym and join in activities with residents, increasing social opportunities and creating a sense of community. And the charity benefits from the support of over 3,000 volunteers.
The minister said by offering residents the full range of tenure options, ExtraCare - the charity behind Lovat Fields - was offering independence, which made the scheme an attractive option for older people. The funds from the sale of high value homes ensure that affordable homes can also be built.
Out of the 258 properties 100 are rented, 90 are for shared ownership, and 68 are for outright purchase.
The development is 1 of 14 retirement developments and 17 smaller homes run by the trust providing homes for 4,400 people across the Midlands and the North of England, and demand is booming with 30,000 households registering an interest in the charity’s villages.
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said:
Lovat Fields is transforming the lives of older people, and providing innovative and inspiring ways for people to maintain their independence and tackle the scandal of loneliness in older age. The residents I’ve met were delighted to live there.
I want to see approaches like these and others replicated across the country so older people can have homes to suit their need.
Nick Abbey, Chief Executive of The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, said:
Lovat Fields is the first of 2 ExtraCare villages in Milton Keynes and a response to overwhelming local demand for retirement housing with care that offers independence, activity and social opportunities at an affordable cost.
Our charity’s Milton Keynes villages provide a real alternative to more traditional forms of care and are integrated into their neighbourhoods with over 500 local visitors using their gyms and other social facilities as part of an inspirational community hub.
The minister met Jan Cook, who has lived in the village since it opened and leads the residents’ association. She is also editor of the monthly village newsletter, the Willen Warbler. Jan said:
Living at Lovat Fields has changed my life. I feel safe and secure and have never been so busy with so many friends on my doorstep. It’s so good to know that care is here if I ever need it. With lots to do and support available people can be independent and happy here.
Mr Hopkins also met Mick Eells, who has lived in the village since it opened. He said:
Moving here doesn’t retire you from doing things! My wife and I are always busy, singing in the choir, supporting the residents association and entertainment group or volunteering in the bar. There’s never a dull moment but we have our own apartment so we can join in or seek the privacy of our own front door as we wish. It’s a good balance.