Independence is their watchword

Doddington Court’s extra care scheme offers older people a different kind of support.

It was a whistle-stop tour of an unfinished building, but walking its corridors and inspecting its rooms, it was very easy to see why Sue Clark is so excited by Doddington Court.

For this is something special – an affordable housing scheme for older people that enables them to retain their independence while providing appropriate levels of care and support. As an “extra care” scheme, it is very different from the traditional ‘care home’.

The development is now nearing completion on vacant land at Doddington Community Hospital, as part of a wider masterplan to regenerate the whole hospital site.

When fully equipped, by the end of this year it will comprise 59 flats – 50 available for rent and nine others that will be used for people who need intermediate care, minor treatment and rehabilitation (see panel below).

Ms Clark is a Regional Manager for Sanctuary Care, part of the Sanctuary Group which has developed Doddington Court in partnership with Fenland District Council, NHS Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire County Council.

“What we’re providing is independent living with the peace of mind of knowing there are staff on site 24 hours a day,” she says.

“Historically, if people couldn’t manage at home they went into residential care. Extra care is a real alternative. Some tenants in our developments have moved from residential care precisely because they want to retain their independence.

“They have their own front door and want to make their own decisions, from what time they get up to when they go to bed. If an individual’s care and support needs increase we can meet this with our flexible and person centred approach to providing services.

Light fills the building. The corridors are wide, the colours warm. The flats themselves are spacious and airy and come complete with washer/dryer, fridge-freezer, electric oven and hob. They are carpeted but tenants will provide their own furniture. Some also have their own balconies.

Other facilities and services include a welcoming reception area, secure door entry system, hairdressers and assisted bathrooms. There are also communal lounges, a fitness studio, a guest suite for family or friends and a restaurant that will be open seven days a week, serving freshly cooked lunches plus teas and snacks. Outside are carefully landscaped gardens.

The first tenants are expected to occupy their flats early in the new year. Ms Clark has already conducted viewings for about 30 people and their feedback has been very positive.

Drawing on her knowledge of other, similar Sanctuary developments, she says: “What people treasure is having their independence and at the same time feeling secure in the knowledge there is a team of staff on site who will respond immediately to any emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That’s great for their families, too – it gives them peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones get all the support they need.

“We try and involve everyone. We hold tenants’ meetings and relatives’ meetings and we promote social activities and social interaction - but it’s very much up to the tenants themselves to decide what they want to do.

“We can provide the lovely buildings but it’s the tenants and staff who provide the atmosphere. In the end it’s the people who make the scheme.”

For more details, call Sue Clark on 01905 334884 or e-mail