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Independent Living

Sign pointing towards Farrow Court and The Joe Fagg Community Centre

Independent Living in Ashford

What does it mean to live in an independent living scheme in Ashford?

The population of Ashford is growing and we are catering for the needs of our ageing population. We offer independent living – vibrant homes appropriate for the needs of those who live there. It is ‘care ready’ accommodation with the option of support for those who need it in later life.

Within the borough of Ashford the council owns and manages 10 independent living schemes. These are run by a team of scheme managers who offer and deliver a wide range of support services.

The support offered includes looking after your health and well-being, providing tenancy support, and information and advice regarding your tenancy. The 10 schemes are covered by eight scheme managers, who work 8.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 4pm on Fridays. Most scheme managers work in one scheme, although two members of staff each cover two schemes (close to each other).

We have approximately 440 independent living flats and bungalows, and 730 dwellings spread throughout the rest of the borough specifically intended for elderly or disabled tenants. Most are one or two bedroom bungalows with a small number of three beds, and these are offered to people aged 50 and over.

Many of our units have been adapted to focus on specific housing needs to make life a little easier for our tenants. This may include level access, extra hand rails, and flush floor showers.

Some schemes have regular visiting services for the benefit of our tenants, such as hairdressing, book clubs and chiropody.

We also work with care managers and social services to help deliver personalised care packages where this can be accommodated within our schemes, as efficiently as possible.

24-hour support

Each dwelling benefits from a Telecare Alarm system. The alarm system functions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need help in an emergency and the scheme manager is not on site, alarm calls automatically go through to the Ashford Monitoring Centre (AMC). The AMC staff are then able to contact family members and/or emergency services when necessary.

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This service is dedicated to our independent living schemes and offers an improved range of repairs and maintenance work, including some ground maintenance to help sheltered tenants with some of those odd jobs around the home that you may not find so easy anymore. For example, fixing together some flat pack furniture or putting up a shelf.

Service charges

The cost of providing the support is charged through a service charge which is in addition to your rent. In most schemes we operate a communal heating and water facility which is also paid through the service charge. This is calculated every year based on the previous year’s consumption.

Safety and security

Each of the independent living blocks of flats has the added security of having an electronic door entry system connected to the AMC. Most of the schemes also have their own CCTV for the added safety of its residents.

Buildings and gardens

We look after the buildings internally and externally but tenants are encouraged to be actively involved in the communal gardens. We will happily promote vegetable patches and flower beds. The bungalow schemes have their own gardens.

Social activities

Independent living schemes tend to have very active social clubs, although tenants obviously have the choice to be involved as much or as little as they wish.

Many of the social activities are arranged by the residents. They include evening entertainment such as live music, cheese and wine nights, fish and chip suppers, bingo and coffee mornings. In some units there are even games of Wii and X-Box Kinect happening!

The scheme mangers practise positive engagement and will help organise the social activities where required.

Modernising our independent living schemesAerial photo of the Farrow Court housing complex

Ashford Borough Council have identified that some of our independent living accommodation needs to be modernised and expanded. We have developed long term plans to modernise and improve the facilities, although this will take several years. Recent cuts in our rent income will also impact on how long this will take.

All phases of Farrow Court in south Ashford are now fully complete. Danemore in Tenterden is open. East Stour Court is currently on site and Oakleigh House is also scheduled to undergo renovation.

How to apply

If you are interested in independent living and currently meet the criteria then please complete a housing application form from Kent Homechoice and return it to Ashford Borough Council.

For more information or if you would like to talk to someone about independent living in Ashford, email the housing services team or call 01233 330688.

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Who is eligible to move into independent living accommodation?

Generally, you have to be 60 years old or more to be eligible for our independent living scheme accommodation. In exceptional circumstances we can accept people slightly younger, for example if they have disability and / or a need for support.

+ What sort of accommodation is provided?

All our flats and bungalows are fully self-contained, with their own kitchen, bathroom and living rooms. Most are one or two bedroom properties; however, we do still have some studio flats where the living room is combined with the bedroom. Every property has its own front door and residents can come and go as they please, the schemes also benefit from the additional security given by secure entrances and CCTV remote monitoring.

+ Who is responsible for any repairs that become necessary?

The council as your landlord is responsible for the repair and maintenance of your home, although this does not include your personal fixtures and fittings. Sheltered housing tenants have the benefit of a handy person which is a service to help with the little extras that are not provided through our repair obligations. A list of these jobs can be obtained through the Scheme Manager.

+ Can I come and go as I please?

Yes of course, as a tenant of an independent living scheme you live as independently as any other tenant. The principle behind independent living schemes is that we provide that degree of support and security that enables you to continue living independently in your home for as long as you wish.

+ Can I have visitors?

Of course you can – it is your home. The only rules that apply are those that apply to all of us – that your visitors respect others living in the area and do nothing to cause nuisance or annoyance to others.

+ I understand each scheme has its own manager – what is their role?

The role of the Scheme Manager is to support each tenant to live independently. Each tenant will have a bespoke support plan and risk assessment that will detail any specific needs and establish the level of support that is needed. The support will include maintaining and managing your tenancy, liaising with agencies such as health, social services and care providers to help deliver personalised care packages. The Scheme Manager can also assist in reporting repairs, completing forms as well as helping organise social events. This could be trips to the theatre and live music events for example.

+ Do I pay extra for the scheme manager?

Yes. The Scheme Manager provides a range of services and support, such as looking after your wellbeing, helping you manage your tenancy, encouraging engagement and social activities, helping you with your day to day activities such as completing forms and providing advice dealing with welfare benefits for example. The support is there as and when you need it, there may be some circumstances perhaps through temporary illness when you are less able, that support can be invaluable. If you are eligible for Housing Benefit you will also get help in paying the cost of the Scheme Manager. The funding for this is currently paid from the Government to KCC as Supporting People.

+ What if I need help when the scheme manager is not on duty or on holiday?

Our Scheme Manager Service currently operates a daily cover Monday to Friday for support during the hours 8am to 4.30pm Monday-Thursday, and 8am to 4pm Friday. The 24 hour assistance will continue through the Telecare Tunstall system via the Life Line and will operate outside the normal working hours. A ‘buddy’ arrangement is in place so when ‘your’ scheme manager is away the scheme is covered by another manager who you will also get to know.

+ Will the scheme manager cook any meals for me, or provide any medical help?

No. it is not the role of the Scheme Manager to provide these services, but they will contact other agencies that do (Social Services, GPs) on your behalf should you wish or need them.

+ Is my heating and water included in the cost?

There is a separate charge for heating and water in most schemes. This covers both your heating and water for your flat, the charge is payable with your rent, but it is not covered by Housing Benefit so has to be paid in full. The bungalow schemes tend to have their own meters for gas, electricity and water.

+ What sorts of activities go on at each scheme?

Most schemes have a range of communal activities but this depends on the wishes of the tenants themselves. Currently within the schemes there are the more traditional coffee mornings, bingo sessions, lunch clubs, exercise clubs and Christmas and birthday celebrations but in many schemes there are monthly live music events, quizzes, cheese and wine evenings and themed evenings for example. External trips are arranged such as trips to the theatre, London, Blackpool and the coast. Most schemes have communal TV’s and DVD players as well as games consoles.

+ Do I have to participate in these activities?

All activities are for those who wish to participate; there is no obligation on anyone to take part. We do encourage you to join in, to help make everyone feel welcome and most importantly part of their community.

+ What happens if my health deteriorates once I move into sheltered accommodation?

Whilst many people stay fit and active into later life, others unfortunately may not. If your health deteriorates, or if you cannot manage some tasks any more, the support of a sheltered scheme may enable you to remain in your home. We regard your home in a sheltered scheme as your home for life, or as long as you wish to remain there. If problems occur and for example you can no longer cope physically with a bath, we may be able to install a shower. Perhaps you may need the help of a carer to assist with shopping or cooking; all these services can be provided within your sheltered home.

+ I currently own my own home; can I move into the council’s sheltered accommodation?

Yes, it is possible. We would need to know the value or your current property, and that you do need sheltered accommodation. You would also have to be eligible for assistance under our current Lettings Policy. You can apply by completing a choice based letting form.

+ I still drive a car – what is the parking provision like?

This varies from scheme to scheme – some have lots of space for parking and garages, whereas others have limited space. Wherever possible though we would try to ensure parking is available.

+ I’ve got a cat/dog – can I take them into independent living accommodation?

Generally speaking, pets (dogs and cats) are only allowed where access to your front door would lead directly to the outside for example a bungalow scheme would allow for pets (dogs and cats). This is to avoid the possibility of pets making a nuisance of themselves in internal communal areas, which is obviously not acceptable. As a significant number of our schemes do not have such access directly to the outside it is best to check with each particular Scheme Manager to see if pets are permitted.

+ I currently live in a larger council house and cannot afford to move; could the council help with this?

Yes, we operate a downsizing incentive scheme that you may be eligible for. In some circumstances we are able to help with the cost of removals, disconnection and reconnection of services such as the telephone and cooker, etc. as well as a payment depending on the number of bedrooms you are reducing your home by which you may be eligible for and the council is able to help with the cost of removals, disconnection and reconnection of services such as the telephone and cooker, etc.