Older residents enjoyed a date to remember with Calendar Girl Lynda Bellingham when she opened a new £10million extra care housing scheme in Staffordshire, which is the first of its kind in the county.
Lynda, who is performing in the hit show in Wolverhampton, joined residents at Vine Court, at Bridgtown, Cannock, for the opening of the 83-apartment extra care scheme today (Thursday, October 27).
The Loose Women panellist took part in activities, including hand massage, card making and armchair aerobics, to celebrate the completion of the scheme.
As well as meeting residents, Lynda chatted to staff from Care Plus, which manages the scheme and provides care and support, as well as representatives from Staffordshire County Council, South Staffordshire District Council and Cannock Chase District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), and Housing Plus, of which Care Plus is a part.
The scheme, for people aged mainly over 55, offers communal facilities, such as a restaurant, hair salon, lounge, sensory garden and hobby room. It also has specialist accommodation providing care for people with dementia.
Lynda is well-known for championing the need for good quality housing and care for older people after her birth mum and foster mum both died after suffering from Alzheimer’s.
At the opening Lynda said: "When I turned 60 I realised how it important it was to plan for the next 20 years. To see places like Vine Court is incredible because everything you need is here.
“This development is fantastic and definitely the way forward. It is important that as you get older you retain your identity and independence and Vine Court clearly allows you to do that. I live with my husband and sons in their 20’s so I can’t wait to move into Vine Court!
“If I could give one message to the Government at the moment, it would not be about politics, but that we need to create a country where people are enjoying society no matter what age they are.”
Speaking to the residents, Lynda added: “I’m honoured that when you wanted an opening ceremony that you wanted me to do it. I am delighted to declare Vine Court officially open.”
The scheme is the first in the district to use personalised care budgets which means that residents choose which care provider they use and what type of care they receive. This gives residents more independence to choose who they receive care from and what type of support they get, which can include social support such as being taken out for the day, household support with cleaning and ironing, or personal support with washing and dressing, depending on their needs.
Chair of Care Plus Bill Martin OBE said: “We are delighted that Lynda could join us to celebrate the opening of Vine Court and see the work we are doing to innovate older people’s housing and support in Staffordshire.
“Vine Court is the first scheme to see how personalised budgets can transform older people’s and their families’ lives. It gives people more control and choice over how they receive care.”
Debbie Griffiths, chief executive of Housing Plus, added: “Care Plus is proving to be a real success story for Staffordshire. The schemes we are developing are not only benefitting the lives of residents but also their families as the care and support gives them peace of mind that their loved ones are being well-cared for.
“We are also bringing employment opportunities to the county as we look to employ local people in the schemes we are developing.”
Care Plus currently employs 92 members of staff and 37 of these are based at Vine Court. They deliver more than 1000 hours of care each week, and this number is increasing.
For more information on Care Plus homes and careers visit www.care-plus.org.uk