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£4m Savings Achieved By Home Building Council

Richard Ives with home manager

6:30am 11th April 2014

By building more homes for vulnerable people across Bucks, the County Council claims it's saved £4m.

The authority's "My Life, My Home" programme has now been going for 4 years where homes are specially built for people with learning difficulties.

Bucks County Council says the savings come from effective use of the authority's resources. But BCC says the scheme is more about helping people than it is about cutting cash.

62 year-old Richard Ives is given as a prime example of someone who has benefited from the life-changing initiative.

Wheelchair-user Richard, who has mild learning and physical disabilities, moved into a spacious one-bedroom flat in the brand new Grove Gardens complex in High Wycombe last September.

Previously, he had been in a care home in Princes Risborough and had never before lived in his own property.
But, under this supported living scheme, Richard now leases his flat from MacIntyre Housing Association, and with the help of on-site care staff from Radian Support, pays his own bills, and does his own cooking and washing.

"It's great living in my own flat. I'm happy here," who has a fully-fitted kitchen complete with dishwasher and washing machine, as well as his own flat-screen television in the lounge.

Linda Hodges, manager of Grove Gardens, explained:

"The best thing for Richard is he can lock his front door and be alone whenever he wants. But he can enjoy the best of both worlds, because staff are there to support him when he needs it, and there is a communal area to mix with other residents.

He likes his door being closed at night. It's a big thing for him that he can sit and lock the front door, but he can socialise when he wants to."

In total, there are eight residents in Grove Gardens living in similar supported circumstances. There is also a six-bed spacious care home in the same complex.

Grove Gardens, which opened last year, was one of many similar complexes all across the county built specially or adapted for the various projects. Since the first of the associated projects started in 2005, there have been 29 new or redeveloped services for vulnerable adults, not including new care homes for older people.  Two more services are nearing completion, with more in the pipeline.

Ainsley MacDonnell, the Council's Interim Service Manager - Strategic Commissioning, said:

"A lot of people with learning disabilities would have spent a big part of their life living in a hospital ward or in institutional settings.  It was commonplace to share bathrooms and sometimes bedrooms, but now people such as Richard have got their own things in their own homes and it's really nice to see them have this independence, choice and control and be able to call the shots."

She is convinced that the social benefits of the project are enormous, but the added bonus is that this initiative has also resulted in large savings for the Council:

"We have saved money by being more efficient and more effective at using our resources, 'The My Life, My Home' programme has saved £3.8m. Some of this has come from us renegotiating costs with providers or bringing together smaller older style accommodation into slightly larger, but more efficient and independent purpose built accommodation. We have also saved money by bringing people back to Bucks from more expensive placements out of the county."

Over in Sands, nine residents with mental health issues live in a modern, residential care home run by Hightown Praetorian & Churches Housing Association.  This is part of a similar council project called Home Options.

The key difference with this accommodation to many others is that each resident has their own room, own bathroom and can come and go as they please.

Patricia Birchley, the County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

"We are very proud of all that has been achieved by these projects. Our Council is committed to improving the lot of vulnerable adults, while at the same time helping them to be as independent as possible."

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