Thursday, 15 September, 2016
One of the gradual but important changes we are facing today is housing increasing numbers of older people who need some degree of care. It is not just a case of care homes for those who need 24-hour help, but the intermediate stages that increasing numbers will require as we all live longer.
With that in mind it was both interesting and encouraging to visit Chamberlain Manor, a new development in Ashford opened in the last year. It is a genuine community which provides round-the-clock care if people need it, but which allows people not only to live in their own apartments but to be part-owners of them as well, giving them an asset which they can pass on to their families.
Chamberlain Manor which is run by the not-for-profit organisation Housing 21, describes itself as an “extra care” site where residents can source professional and personalised provision, at the same time as enjoying a daily lifestyle of their own choosing. It contains one and two-bedroom flats, and many of the residents are couples.
This is an interestingly flexible solution to the issues facing many older people. Some of the residents I met came from West Kent, showing that what can be most important is not to find somewhere close to your existing family home, but somewhere close to children and grandchildren.
The ability to have an easy travel to a town and shops is also important. If you have lived for a long time in a village, the point where you feel it is no longer safe to drive can suddenly produce a real danger of loneliness, and increasing difficulty in managing the basics of life. So a position like Chamberlain Manor on the edge of Ashford is a very practical one.
There is clearly a real community spirit developing. I discovered that I was one of a long line of speakers to the residents, who originally got in touch with me to ensure a postal collection from the development (now happily being provided by Royal Mail).
The ability to live independently for as long as possible, and to have what are often increasing care needs met over time in your own property, is one of the challenges for many people over the coming decades. This shows one way of meeting those demands, and it is good to see it happening in Ashford.