Former Ullapool care home building to get £1.1m refurbishment to support independent living

09/07/2024
Maree Todd MSP

ONE OF the largest social housing providers in the Highlands has been successful in securing planning approval to change a disused care home staff accommodation block into homes that will allow people to live independently for longer.

Albyn Housing Society has exercised an option to purchase a staff accommodation block that was part of the former Mo Dhachaidh care home in Ullapool. The social housing provider will now finalise plans, appoint a contractor and convert the property into four 1-bedroom ‘Fit homes’.

The state-of-the-art Fit homes, pioneered by Albyn Housing Society as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, utilise predictive behaviour pattern sensors and harness artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

The homes are fitted with sensors that share real-time information with family members, caregivers or key workers who have access permission. Yet unlike cameras, they still offer a high degree of privacy to their occupants. The technology allows tenants to be able to live independently in their own home for longer, relieving the strain on social care.

The acquisition is part of a community-led initiative to retain some form of care provision within the Ullapool area following the closure of the adjacent care home in March 2023. The property has been purchased by Albyn using grant funding from the Scottish Government and The Highland Council.

The care home building was rescued by the Highland Hospice and is currently used by NHS Highland as a health centre.

Kirsty Morrison, Group Chief Executive of Albyn Housing Society, said: “We knew there was a lot of concern amongst the local community when the care home closed last year and Albyn was keen to play our part in ensuring there would still be a form of social care available locally.

“Our state-of-the-art Fit homes have been hugely successful in other parts of the Highlands including Lairg, Nairn and Dingwall and mean that residents can live in their own home, independently, for longer. It often helps them remain in their local community too, which is often a challenge with such a wide geographical base as is the case in Highland.

“With funding from the Scottish Government and The Highland Council we will be able to provide much needed social housing in Ullapool as well as provide peace of mind for the families of those who will live in the homes once we have completed the refurbishment.

“Now we have the planning all sorted we aim to be on site later in the year.”

MSP for Ullapool, Maree Todd, added: “As someone who lives in the Ullapool area I know how important it is for local people to have the option to grow old in their own community.

“Last year’s closure of Mo Dhachaidh was a severe blow to residents, staff, and the entire Ullapool community, however, with this new project led by Albyn providing independent living options, and NHS Highland still operating part of the former care home as a health centre, this building has a positive future at the heart of the community.”

“Albyn Housing Society has done some incredible work in pioneering these Fit homes in rural locations across the Highlands and I am looking forward to seeing the benefits they can bring to Ullapool.”

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