Friendship across the generations in Dover

Contributed by editor on Jul 04, 2017 - 06:05 AM


Visitors to the opening of Beeches in Dover, one of five new extra care schemes being managed by West Kent Housing Association, will receive a welcome with a difference.


Thanks to the scheme’s close links with the nearby Whitfield Aspen Primary School, the residents will be using Makaton sign language to greet the VIPs and other guests at the opening ceremony on Wednesday 5 July.

They were taught the signs for the welcome when children visited the school on one of their recent weekly visits, and scheme manager Julie Field has made sure her residents have been practising hard since.

A group of pupils will also be at the launch of the scheme to help with the signing before joining Councillor Diane Marsh, Kent County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, when she cuts the official ribbon at 2.30pm on Wednesday, 5 July.

One of the Whitfield Aspen pupils, Freddie, reads to Doreen Hoppitt

Whitfield Aspen is a fully inclusive school – one of just a few in the county – where mainstream children mix and learn with others with profound and multiple learning issues, and so signing is an important part of their day.

A number of children visit each week to read to the over-55s at Beeches, the last of five schemes being unveiled this year as a result of the Kent Excellent Homes for All private finance initiative by Kent EHFA ProjectCo.

The home reflects the commitment of a partnership that brings together Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Kent EHFA ProjectCo, West Kent, Galliford Try Partnerships and Galliford Try Facilities Management.

The £100 million Kent Excellent Homes for All PFI scheme has provided 218 extra care apartments across five sites in Kent for people over the age of 55 with a care need. Two more schemes providing supported accommodation for vulnerable adults take the total number of homes to 238, all of them managed by West Kent.

Beeches – like the other four extra care schemes – provides independent living but with care available on-site if needed. As well as spacious apartments, residents benefit from facilities including a restaurant, bar, lounge, laundry, gym/dance studio, hair salon and activities/computer suite. The communal facilities are available for hire by local groups.

As well as the youngsters who visit to read to the older people each week, another group of Year 3 pupils walk to Beeches each Thursday to sit and sew with some of the residents.

“Coming to Beeches and meeting the older people is really valuable to us and we hope it gives the residents as much pleasure as it does the youngsters,” said special needs teacher Natalie Sparnon.

The apartments at the scheme in Cranleigh Drive are large and well equipped, and all five of the new buildings are fully wheelchair accessible, with good storage for mobility scooters.

The 20 one-bed and 20 two-bed apartments have a spacious lounge, kitchen and accessible bathroom with level access shower, and each one has either a patio or a balcony.

Built by Galliford Try Partnerships, the schemes are being managed by West Kent under a 25-year contract, while Galliford Try Facilities Management will repair and maintain the buildings and grounds.

Rents range from £260.04 for a one-bed apartment per week, including service charge and utilities, to £283.87 for a two-bed.

The scheme is located in Cranleigh Drive, Dover CT16 3FG

Top photo: Signing practice ahead of the opening.

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