Plan to fund extra care homes

Council director Jo Willmott
Council director Jo Willmott

Town hall chiefs have entered discussions to fund several new care homes to tackle the borough’s ageing population crisis.


Wigan Council’s care home reform committee has begun plans to commission two brand new care homes and redevelop an existing building to combat a "fragile adult social care market".

One of the key priorities of the board, the health and social care scrutiny committee heard, is to develop additional capacity for the 70,000 over 65s - around a fifth of the population - expected to be living in the borough by 2025, 9,000 of whom will be over the age of 85.

Town hall figures predict that by 2025, the number of people aged over 65 will have increased by 50 per cent in just ten years, while the number of people aged over 85 living in the borough will have more than doubled.

The three potential developments would create a total of 170 new care home beds and six end-of-life suites across three different areas including Bickershaw and Leigh.

No estimated cost has been made by the council but it is thought any such scheme would cost in excess of £5m.

Wigan Council would not run the care homes but would be likely to hand them over to private providers.

Currently, many care home providers struggle financially because they claim the cost of providing places exceeds the funding provided by local authorities.

Jo Willmott, assistant director for provider management and market development at Wigan Council, said: "Through The Deal for Adult Social Care Wigan Council is creating a diverse care market which offers a wide range of services.

"Locally and nationally adult social care services have identified growing demand linked with an aging population who have a range of complex support needs.

"The Care Home Reform Board has been established to drive forward transformation in this area and has identified a number of proposals to meet this demand, ensuring Wigan borough has a range of care home and Extra Care options offering high quality rich and nurturing experiences to residents."

The proposals include a 62-bed nursing care home in Bickershaw called The Croft. This facility would be provided by the current owners of Brideoake, in Leigh, which is also due to be redeveloped if plans go ahead.

According to council documents, The Croft would also provide four end of life suites.

The associated statement, which is available publicly, says: "The architect and provider have designed an immersive and intuitive environment which will meet the needs of the client group being supported through dementia friendly design and assistive technology.

"The development will provide an alternative to high cost out of borough placements and allow for market shaping in borough.
Build time is estimated at 12 months."

The Brideoake redevelopment, which is also under discussion, would take around three months to complete and would unlock an additional 18 beds and two end of life suites.

Any new beds provided would also be designed to offer specialist support for those with dementia or "challenging behaviour".

Finally, the largest of the proposed developments is a "Dementia Centre of Excellence". The 90-bed development has been described as a "critical" factor in wider Care Home reform.

In partnership with a "local charity", who has not yet been named, the Dementia Centre of Excellence would include 30 sub-acute beds.

Associated documents outline the plans, saying: "The Care Home Reform Board are working with a local charity who shares Wigan Council’s ethical commitment to achieving the best for local people by aligning world class building design with the best possible model of care and support to create a Centre of Excellence that the borough can be proud of."