Housing scheme plugs gap for adults in social care across Purbeck

A year after being completed, the modular apartments at Red Oak Court in Wareham are being deemed a success by residents with social care requirements, who are now able to live more independently.

Craned onto the site at the old Middle Wareham School in spring 2020, the temporary accommodation was a response to the urgent housing need of adults in Purbeck with learning disabilities, mental health issues or physical impairments.

First of its kind in the UK

It’s claimed that the scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and was able to be completed despite the Covid pandemic.

As part of the Dorset Council’s housing initiative, there are now 17 modular, moveable, self-contained apartments and bungalows, plus an office and overnight facilities for an on-site care provider.

Red Oak Court in Wareham
Dorset Council

The modular units at Red Oak Court in Wareham on the site of the old middle school

“It’s a good place to live”

Shaun, a resident at Red Oak Court said:

“I like being on my own and being independent. Living here is a good thing…it’s a good place to live. I cook every day and like having mum and dad over for tea. I do newsletters and stuff like that every month and do events and organising, like football.”

Resident, Shaun, at Red Oak Court, Wareham
Dorset Council

Red Oak Court resident, Shaun

A new health hub

The aim in the long term is to replace this temporary accommodation with permanent homes, as part of a wider development of the site called the Purbeck Gateway, which will include a new health hub offering GP and hospital services, alongside a new nursing home.

Dorset Council is working with NHS Dorset Healthcare and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver this ‘Building Better Lives’ scheme in Purbeck.

However the programme has been delayed due to the pandemic, without planned public engagement being able to take place in 2020 and 2021.

“Enriching the lives of adults with social care requirements”

Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for adult social care and health, councillor Laura Miller said:

“Dorset Council’s Building Better Lives’ supported living scheme is enriching the lives of adults with social care requirements in Purbeck, by providing modern, fit-for-purpose and state-of-the-art accommodation.

“The temporary nature of the accommodation at Red Oak Court works well for our residents, as it gives people time and a place to gain independence and confidence. They have the choice and control over their move into longer-term independent housing.

“Our aim is to build on the strengths of people we support, focusing on what is important to them and what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.

“I’m so proud of our workforce and also the families of individuals who have supported the successful transition for people with care requirements to live independently.”

In August 2021, Dorset Council had 4,035 adults with a social care package of support, of whom, 953 adults had a learning disability, which equates to around 24 percent. The council supports 392 people with a learning disability to live in a supported living setting.

Red Oak Court tenant, James, with CIC support staff
Dorset Council

Red Oak Court resident, James with support staff

“The level of support required from our social workers has reduced”

Area practice manager for learning disabilities at Dorset Council, Rachael Howes said:

“It has been wonderful to see our residents thrive in their new homes. They are very happy and enjoy having freedom and their own space. Many of them have made new friends with their neighbours and keep in touch with their friends from the local area.

“Since the residents settled into their new way of life, the level of support required from our social workers has reduced, which is great for them and also for the wider community, as the team can now support more people in the Purbeck area.”

Red Oak Court is managed by East Boro Housing Trust and on-site support is provided by Community-Integrated-Care.

The Local Government Association’s One Public Estate awarded the programme an £86,000 grant in 2019, contributing to the overall £2.2m cost of the build.

Further information

  • More on housing and supported living is on the Dorset Council website
  • The latest on the Building Better Lives scheme for Purbeck is also on the Dorset Council website

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