A new era for assisted living in Harrogate
Last updated Apr 13, 2024
assisted living harrogate

For 11 disabled people preparing to move into their own flat within a new assisted living development in Harrogate, there are mixed emotions.

There’s a natural apprehension about the change and challenges ahead, as they make their desired move towards more independence and control over the way they live their lives.

But there’s also excitement at the prospect of having their own key to a home that is theirs alone. For most, it will be the first time in their lives that they will have their own front door. Their fully-accessible, modern and spacious apartments will bring them a new level of independence. They will be able to use their space as they wish – to relax, entertain, cook and have friends round.

The £7.5 million St Roberts Grove development was unveiled on Wednesday by the charity and social enterprise, Disability Action Yorkshire. It will replace the organisation’s existing 20-bed residential care home for younger adults on Claro Road.

The scheme is designed to empower people with disabilities to be independent and live their life to the fullest, as they want to live it, while ensuring that support is on hand for them when they need it.

Each flat has its own kitchen, living area, bedroom and en-suite wetroom, and has been custom designed for the individual needs of its inhabitant. Staff from the charity will be on site 24 hours a day to provide personalised care and support. Each flat will also have a call bell system so tenants can ask for assistance if they need it.

‘Nervous and excited’

Supported living development in Harrogate

Jacqueline Kelly, left, with Claro Road support carer Tracey Wilson.

Jacqueline Kelly is among the first group of residents, mostly aged between 18 and 45, who will be moving into their new homes on Monday.

Attending the official opening of the development last Wednesday, Jacqueline had just a few bits left to pack over the weekend. For the last 24 years, she has been living at Claro Road, where she’s had her own bedroom and en-suite wet room but has shared a communal living room, dining room and kitchen. So this will be a big change for her. She said:

“I’m nervous but I’m excited about having my own space. I’ve been to see my new flat and have been trying to imagine it with my furniture in there. I want to be relaxed in it and make a good job of it, to make a life. I want to enjoy it.”

‘This is just the next challenge’

Supported living development in Harrogate

Nick Moxon outside his new flat.

Nick Moxon feels the same way. He’s slightly apprehensive about moving into his own flat after 14 years at Claro Road. But, at the same time, he’s looking forward to being more independent and is relishing the challenge ahead of him. He said:

“This will be the first time I’ve lived on my own. It’s a bit daunting and a new experience. I’ll need to adapt to my new support package and the set times that I’ll have help, but it should make me more independent. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone, but you take it step by step.”

Nick said he’d gained a lot of self-confidence during his time at Claro Road and had met some great people, who he would miss. He said:

“I’ve been used to living in a community, so I’ll miss seeing the other people as often. I’m quite active socially so I’ll be inviting them over – I’ll able to have people round to the flat when I want to.”

Nick said he was very impressed by the spaciousness of the flats, with the size of the bathrooms really standing out for him.

And once he’s settled in, there’s one thing that he’s set his sights on achieving this year. He said:

“I’m looking forward to doing some cooking. I won’t be able to cook completely independently and will need a bit of support, but by the end of this year I want to have mostly prepared a meal by myself. I’m going to cook a meal and have my family over as my first visitors to try it. If I can cook a meal for them, I’ll be dead proud.

“It’s the little things that people take for granted that for people like me are so emotional. Last year I went to Norway on a cruise and this is just the next challenge.”

Setting the standard

The facility is owned by Highstone Housing Association, with Harrogate-based Disability Action Yorkshire providing care and support. The first phase of the development comprises 23 individual one and two-bed apartments. A further 12 will be built on the site of the existing care home, which will be demolished later this year. The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

“St Roberts Grove sets the standard,” said Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a multi-gold-medal-winning Paralympian and now Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire. She was at the official unveiling and open day, and was impressed with the new development. She continued:

“It’s lovely. It’s so good for people to have their own space and to have decent quality accommodation. It helps them be more independent, fitter and healthier.

“I’ve looked around one of the flats and it was lovely, with two bedrooms and two big bathrooms. Having that support on site is really important for the residents, as well as having their own living space. It’s personalised. It’s something that other places can really learn from.”

The kitchen at the new St Roberts Grove assisted living development in Harrogate

The kitchen of one of the new assisted living flats.

Baroness Thompson’s words were echoed by the Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, who cut the ribbon on the new development. Congratulating Disability Action Yorkshire, he described the new supported living scheme as a major project for the charity and one to which they’d aspired for a long time. He said:

“This is an absolutely fantastic facility that sets the standard for what supported living can look like in our area. These are beautiful apartments and they are unique in our area. This is what the future of care looks like.”

Andrew Jones MP cuts the ribbon, with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson pictured second from left, along with residents of the current care home, community representatives and charity staff and trustees.

‘The same opportunities as everyone else’

The best thing about the open day for Jackie Snape, chief executive of Disability Action Yorkshire, was getting the chance to show Jacqueline, Nick and the other residents around the development. Some hadn’t seen their flats before, while others were visiting with an interest in moving there. Jackie said:

“From the people that we work with at our care home, we identified the demand for this development. Some of them didn’t need to have the 24-hour care that was available in the care home. They told us they wanted their own front door, they wanted their own homes. They wanted to live independently. We’ll be providing the care and support they need to enable them to live their lives as they want.”

Jackie said demand for flats had been high and encouraged people to register their interest. More people will be moving in over the next few months, leaving the new accommodation almost fully occupied.

It has taken nearly a decade for the scheme to be completed, after multiple false starts and the pandemic meant it took longer than expected, said Jackie. She added:

“There’s supported housing in the area but a lot of it is group living. This scheme is quite unique and it is needed.

“Eight years ago we started working on how we could move away from residential care, so it’s amazing to see it come to fruition. Disabled people should have exactly the same opportunities as everybody else.”

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