South Tyneside Council - The right place at the right time

South Tyneside remains committed to supporting our residents with the right support when they need it and to make the best use of resources to keep as many of their residents independent for as long as possible. Understanding the demands and pressures, the challenge the council faced was to translate this understanding into developing our Adult Social Care (ASC) Accommodation Strategy to meet housing and ASC needs over the next five years, designing new accommodation to meet those needs and developing new models of care.

The challenge

Adult social care in South Tyneside faces a considerable challenge, including significant budget reductions at a time when the older population is increasing, the number of people with dementia is increasing, there are more people with mental health needs, more people are becoming socially isolated and people are living longer with complex physical and learning disabilities. The impact of recent changes in respect of welfare reforms, levels of deprivation and poverty within the borough all have an impact upon the local authority and wider system in terms of responding to need. 

We spend approximately £34 million a year on care, some supporting people to live independently in their own home, others within a residential care setting. We know from population growth forecasts that if we do nothing by 2023 the council will be spending approximately £38 million.

South Tyneside remains committed to supporting their residents with the right support when they need it. The council aims to make the best use of resources to keep as many of their residents independent for as long as possible. These challenging times require a fresh approach and new thinking.

The council knows that getting the accommodation options right helps them address their priorities in adult social care for more purpose built homes for older people and more vulnerable households supported to live independently. South Tyneside has an over supply of residential care beds in the market, a lack of the right type of accommodation leading to a reliance on expensive out of borough placements, not enough extra care places with a specific demand for dementia care places, an over supply of aging sheltered accommodation and a number of people at home with high care needs.

The council has a clear understanding of the demands and pressures their area faces, the challenge they faced was support to translate this understanding into implementing their ASC Accommodation Strategy to meet housing and adult social care needs over the next five years. This would include exploring procurement and financing options for the delivery of new homes, designing new accommodation to meet those needs and developing new models of care.

The solution

The starting point was to translate our understanding of the demands and pressures we face into an Accommodation Strategy that would set a clear direction, in line with the wider ASC Strategy, over the next five years. In consultation with a range of stakeholders we have developed our ASC Accommodation Strategy. The content and direction of travel have been agreed by the council, the formal document is in the process of being signed off by members.

Through the development of the strategy the council is clear that to promote independence and support more people in their own homes, we need less residential care provision and more 'Extra Care' and 'Independent Supported Living' (ISL’s). We have agreed through the strategy to develop an initial three new 'Extra Care' schemes including specific provision for people with dementia and to develop more supported living accommodation including specialist provision for complex learning disabilities and autism.

Within adult social care we have developed a Programme Board that oversees and manages service change. The Board is chaired by the council’s operations director who reports progress directly to the chief executive on a monthly basis. The implementation of the ASC Accommodation Strategy is a key project governed through the Board. A project group has been set up to manage the implementation of the project and development of new accommodation options; this group is made up of senior officers from adult social care, commissioning, housing, planning and legal.


We have worked with our housing and planning colleagues to identify sites across the borough that fit in with our local plan and would be suitable for the development of 'Extra Care' and 'ISL' schemes. We have appointed architects with experience of designing and developing supported accommodation across the country.

We have broken down the development of accommodation options into three phases with the first phase being to develop:

  • 10-15 bed Specialist Supported Living Scheme for people with autism
  • 10-15 Specialist Support Living Scheme for people with complex learning disability
  • 60 to 80 bed Extra Care scheme.

    Specialist Supported Living Schemes

Working with the appointed architects and a range of stakeholders across the social care and health system, the council has produced initial designs for the autism and complex learning disability schemes. These schemes have been designed upon the brief of:

  • accommodating people living with a high level of health and social care need and behaviour that can challenge
  • buildings designed upon a core and cluster model
  • maximum use of assistive technology
  • flexible 24/7 support that will be provided through an on-site care provider
  • well designed, vibrant and part of the local community
  • mixture of large one bedroom bungalows and flats adhering to the requirements of ADM Category 3
  • massing and scale of developments in keeping with local area
  • some private gardens for people with complex needs
  • central courtyard designed to encourage interaction, reduce anxiety and improve quality of life
  • properties and communal spaces looking onto green spaces
  • multi-functional communal spaces for use by residents, staff and community
  • communal staffing sleeping and washroom facilities.

We are now working with our architects, housing and planning colleagues and Homes England to clarify costs and agree how the schemes will be funded. Upon clarification the council will consider the options to design and build the schemes with an anticipated completion date in 2021.

We know that our existing framework does not provide the accommodation required to meet the needs of those individuals with complex health and care needs and who we would be looking to accommodate in these properties. Once we receive formal planning approval we will be working with our commissioning colleagues to appoint providers for both schemes who have the relevant skills and experience.

Extra Care Scheme

The council has identified a site for an extra care scheme however it has become apparent after initial designs with architects that the constraints on the site are limiting the council's ability to get a 60-80 bed Extra Care Scheme on the site that fits the design brief. The council, as part of discussions on the local plan, is now considering whether there are options to expand the land available to us.


Peter Hunter