‘It all just helps make life a bit easier’

MODERN Juniper Court extra-care housing scheme in Gosport
MODERN Juniper Court extra-care housing scheme in Gosport
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Standing in the lobby of Juniper Court, anyone would be forgiven for thinking they had walked into a luxury hotel.

With glass walls, dozens of comfy seats and a slick reception area, the modern building in Gosport’s Cunningham Drive looks like it would set you back £100 a night.

Juniper Court CARE ACCOMMODATION-Ethel Williams REP SB'CAPTION:'Ethel Williams, who is one of the residents of the new building, Juniper Court in Gosport, a new extra-care accommodation centre for elderly people.'INFO:'Juniper Court, Gosport, to accompany a press release Nigel Peters at Guinness Hermitage''From: Kevin Diamond Photography [mailto:kevin@kevindiamond.co.uk]

Juniper Court CARE ACCOMMODATION-Ethel Williams REP SB'CAPTION:'Ethel Williams, who is one of the residents of the new building, Juniper Court in Gosport, a new extra-care accommodation centre for elderly people.'INFO:'Juniper Court, Gosport, to accompany a press release Nigel Peters at Guinness Hermitage''From: Kevin Diamond Photography [mailto:kevin@kevindiamond.co.uk]

But the newly-constructed complex is actually home to 67 elderly residents and is one of just a handful of extra-care housing schemes in the Portsmouth area.

As more people start to live longer, housing options for the elderly are changing.

New types of care, beyond traditional residential homes, are fast becoming the preferred option for those who need a little help in their golden years.

Extra-care housing is a new concept and is becoming increasingly popular as it allows elderly people to live independently for as long as they can.

Residents in extra-care schemes still receive professional care but without trading it for the security and privacy of their own home.

Juniper Court opened in April and is already 90 per cent full.

The scheme takes people from Gosport Borough Council’s waiting list for sheltered accommodation.

Housing officer Kate Arnold says: ‘It is keeping people out of residential care and allowing people to have their independence still. People have their own flat and their independence but they can still get the care they need.

‘We have a great team here and the thing about Juniper Court is we also take people with differing care needs.

‘People can come in here with low needs and as their needs increase their care increases as well.’

Juniper Court has been designed as a space for community groups to meet and can be used not just by residents who pay rent but by the wider community.

It has its own restaurant, which serves breakfast and hot meals, a hair salon and a health clinic.

Residents are able to start up their own activities including art workshops and history talks.

Another thing which sets Juniper Court apart from other schemes for elderly residents is its provision of two-bed flats.

Housing firm Guinness Hermitage, which operates the Gosport scheme, says this means couples who once would have faced separation can remain together.

‘This place will keep people together who normally might have had to be separated because one of them required more care than the other,’ Kate explains.

‘That person might have had to go into residential care without their partner but here we can take care of them both.’

The Juniper Court scheme was built and funded through a partnership of Guinness Hermitage, Hampshire County Council and Gosport Borough Council.

Guinness Hermitage owns more than 12,000 residential homes across the south.

Gosport’s council leader, Councillor Mark Hook, has hailed the scheme as a ‘21st century’ development.

‘I think the whole scheme is excellent and it will give people who are staying there the care they need,’ he says.

‘It’s a complete mix of people in there. From people who need a little bit of care to people who are struggling by themselves.

‘One thing that’s important is they have a catering facility where the residents sign up for a minimum of five meals a week and they are given a good balanced diet. That’s something people can end up neglecting.

‘The facilities are first-rate. It really is how sheltered accommodation should be for people. I think it’s the blueprint we should use in the future. It’s the right way forward in the 21st century.’

A similar scheme to Juniper Court also opened in Portsmouth on Tuesday.

Brent Court joins two other developments to form the Milton Village, which has 65 extra-care flats for elderly people in the city.

It comes with hairdressing facilities, assisted bathing and landscaped gardens.