By Deborah Stuart, Director of Wellbeing & Safeguarding Every year, we’re keen to support Starts at Home Day at Grand Union. It’s a great way to celebrate supported housing and the life-changing impact it can make to people’s lives. Supported housing helps people leave long stay care and move into their own homes, helping them gain independence and a new lease of life. We see people flourish when they come into our supported housing; they’re encouraged to live their best lives – no matter what that may look like. At Grand Union, we offer a range of supported housing options. We’ve schemes which support people with learning difficulties, some funded by NHS England, domestic abuse refuges, mental health services and large dedicated extra care schemes for those requiring support with a care need. As a landlord we keep this accommodation to a very high standard, decorating often and with quality furniture and appliances. Having worked in supported housing services for more than 30 years, from operational to strategic levels, I’ve seen lots of changes along the way. There was once a drive to develop shared accommodation but now we’re seeing more and more people wanting their own place, their own front door, albeit with a dedicated care team on hand for assistance. With this in mind, we recently worked alongside an architect to implement our vision for an extension at Quince Court, our extra care scheme in Sandy. We wanted the 25 new apartments to look like small houses, though still feel connected to the existing scheme through pathways and balconies. This would help promote customers independence, while still knowing help was nearby and aiding the feeling of sociability. Quince Court and its recent extension is something I’m really proud of. The new apartments have integrated kitchen appliances, wet rooms with Jack and Jill doors, terraces and a tranquil pond. There are chargeable buggy points outside the apartments aiding mobility and an Appello alarm system – a hard wired tablet which residents can use to call for help when they need it or to contact their neighbours that they’re going for a coffee. We encourage a friendly, sociable and connected atmosphere. The supported living scheme is designed to reduce social isolation, creating new opportunities for people to make friends, be safe and to have help on hand when it is needed. Going forward, we are opening our biggest ever development, Camomile Gardens later this year, thanks to the support of government grants. When commissioning schemes like this, we have a clear vision in mind; always considering what we need to do to make it safe, secure and a place people are proud to call home. Camomile Gardens will include 93 bespoke apartments available for rent and shared ownership, exclusively for the over 55s with an identified care need. It will include amenities on site, including hairdressers and a restaurant, helping forge a sense of community and wellness for those living at the scheme. It’s been a hugely rewarding project already and we’ve worked alongside our Community Investment team to involve the local people with the development – from choosing artwork to be displayed at the scheme, to helping out with gardening projects. Camomile Gardens shows the commitment we have for supported housing at Grand Union and I can’t wait to see how it helps to transform the lives of those calling it home. Here are some quotes from colleagues who work in supported housing/ care.