The 20th anniversary of a pioneering programme which has helped thousands of older people live in their own homes for longer is being marked by North Yorkshire Council with a series of visits to meet staff and residents.
The Extra Care programme launched in North Yorkshire in 2003, and there are now 28 housing schemes, with properties for rent and to buy, across the county.
Officials say thousands of older and disabled people have benefited from Extra Care housing over the past 20 years, allowing them to remain living independently in towns and villages across North Yorkshire.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, and the authority’s corporate director of health and adult services, Richard Webb, are embarking on visits to all the Extra Care developments in the county over the next three months.
The visits began this week when Cllr Harrison and Mr Webb went to a total of five schemes in Selby, Helmsley, Pickering, Norton and Tadcaster.
Cllr Harrison said: “The council has led the way with Extra Care facilities nationally, and we know just how important these developments are to allow people to continue to live in the communities which they love as they get older.
“The 20th anniversary of the first Extra Care development in North Yorkshire is a major milestone for us, and the visits will give us a great opportunity to take stock of exactly what has been achieved.
“We want to take the valuable experience and insight of our frontline staff and residents to help develop a vision for Extra Care in the future, and these visits will allow us to listen to and learn from them.”
The visits will continue on Monday next week (August 21) when Cllr Harrison and Mr Webb will go to Extra Care sites in Bentham and Settle, before they head to Ripon, Leyburn, Richmond, Ripon and Knaresborough on September 25.
Visits will be made to Filey and Scarborough on November 6, and then to Brompton, Northallerton, Thirsk, Sowerby and Easingwold on November 13.
The visits will continue to Extra Care schemes in Skipton and Starbeck, near Harrogate, on November 20, before concluding on November 27 with stop-offs at Castleton, Great Ayton and Stokesley.
The Extra Care schemes offer both purpose-built housing as well as care and support for residents, and some developments also host a library, a shop or a café.
Twenty years ago, the original plan was for 20 sites to be opened by 2025, although that figure is now expected to be as high as 30 schemes.
The county’s first Extra Care site, The Orchards, in Brompton, near Northallerton, celebrated its 20th anniversary in May after becoming the first location to open in North Yorkshire.
The development on Extra Care housing in North Yorkshire has come amid a dramatic shift in its demographics with more older people living in the county. It is predicted that the number of people aged 65 and over in North Yorkshire will have risen to 215,117 by 2043, equating to a third of the county’s population.
Mr Webb said: “The country is seeing changes in its demographics with more people living to an older age – this is a trend that is particularly pronounced in North Yorkshire.
“The Extra Care developments have provided a very important facet in our strategy to support an ageing population and we are now looking at how we will provide more of this housing in the future, helped by the fact that the new North Yorkshire Council brings together all housing and social care services.”
The success of Extra Care in the county has been due to a partnership between local government, the Government’s Homes England agency, which is responsible for housing investment, and local housing associations and developers. A total of £9 million has been invested in Extra Care facilities in North Yorkshire in the past few years alone.
Accommodation varies from site to site, offering homes for outright purchase, shared ownership or rent, in different combinations. There are generally one and two-bedroomed bungalows available.
North Yorkshire Council is now looking to work with housing association partners to plan and build new Extra Care schemes, and further announcements are expected later this year.