Independent living plan will consider individual needs, council says

Cabinet members approved a plan to provide more individual flats for young adults with disabilities.
Cabinet members approved a plan to provide more individual flats for young adults with disabilities.

Plans to increase independent living for young adults with disabilities in Lancashire will take account of individual circumstances, a group of councillors has been told.

Lancashire County Council has been consulting on a proposal to replace some of its shared accommodation schemes with individual flats.

READ MORE >>> Apartment schemes planned for elderly residents - but will they be enough to house Lancashire's ageing population?
“We want to move away from some of the more outdated residential-based options and shared housing, which people tell us they don’t want anymore,” Joanne Reid, head of the authority’s policy, information and commissioning unit, told a meeting of the health scrutiny committee.

There are currently more than 700 shared housing sites across Lancashire, but only 34 schemes where residents live in a single flat as part of a wider community. Under the plans, more standalone accommodation will be introduced – either by redeveloping existing properties or building new ones.

Committee member, County Cllr Nikki Hennessy, criticised the council’s consultation for attracting responses largely from potential developers and care providers – with only one in five comments coming from the families and individuals which would be affected by the changes.

But Julie Dockerty, senior manager in the policy, information and commissioning unit, said that a document setting out the strategy for future housing provision was not the place to make plans for the individuals who may live in the new accommodation.

“The detailed discussion and planning takes place with individuals and their families…to understand what is appropriate for [them] and how their circumstances might be appropriate for one of these schemes,” she explained.

The meeting heard that each development will have different levels of integration within the wider community, depending on the needs of the individuals likely to be living there.

Meanwhile, all residents will have access to so-called “background” support – but there will not necessarily be care workers on site around the clock.

Papers presented to the meeting stressed that the new housing being proposed is valued “not just in financial terms and is not a cost cutting exercise”. However, the planned changes are expected to save £295 per week for individuals previously living in shared housing and £600 for those coming from residential care.

Members were told that the county council is not expecting to have to contribute to the capital costs of any refurbishment or new build expenditure. Instead, developers would be paid housing benefit by tenants taking up a flat.

A draft version of the authority’s housing with care and support strategy was approved by cabinet members last September and the final document is expected to be published at the end of the month.