By James Highsted
The site of a Lingfield care home which fell into a state of disrepair will be redeveloped as ‘Homes for Life’ for older people, after getting Surrey County Council (SCC) cabinet approval.
Orchard Court, in East Grinsted Road, was a purpose built residential care home, constructed in the 1970s, with care provision for those suffering from dementia, as well as other age-related conditions. Despite being able to house 63 people, and receiving an overall rating of ‘good’ from the Care Quality Commission, the regulator for adult social care, in April 2021, numbers had dwindled, and only thirteen residents were living there by the time the decision was made to close it. The pandemic was cited as a reason for the home’s reduced admissions.
In February 2022, SCC announced that they had looked at all the options available for Orchard Court but, due to its ageing building and infrastructure, increasing maintenance fees and its lack of suitability for its elderly residents, they felt that closing it, plus seven other care homes in Surrey, was the most viable option. The remaining residents and their families were consulted about being moved to other homes.
In July 2023, an SCC cabinet meeting recommended that approval was granted for the development of Orchard Court Site, along with other sites in Egham and Redhill, as part of their Extra Care Housing remit. It was stated that the new dwellings must be ‘an enabling and accessible environment which makes independent living possible for older people with a spectrum of care needs…their design and nature should mean that it is a ‘Home for Life’: in most cases people should be able to maintain their tenancies and live comfortably and with dignity without needing to go into residential and nursing care homes when their care needs increase.’
Mark Nuti, SCC cabinet member for adults and health said:
“Our focus as a council is on supporting older people to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, in their own homes and communities, with specialist accommodation and the latest technology. With many more people staying safely at home until much later in life, those who do reach the point of needing residential care are more likely to have complex needs.
Orchard Court was a dated building from the 1970s and lacked the facilities many people now need and expect of a care home – there were few en suite bathrooms and it had small rooms which struggled to fit important equipment, while lifts and pipework were ageing.
We worked closely with residents at Orchard Court and their families to make sure that all moves to new homes were arranged sensitively and carefully.
It’s great news for Lingfield and the surrounding area that the cabinet has agreed that the Orchard Court site can now be taken forward for affordable extra care housing, which will enable older people to live in their own homes with care and support always on hand and will, for some people, provide an alternative to residential care. This is, of course, subject to planning approval, and the local community will be able to have their say on our proposals.”
Lesley Steeds, Surrey County councillor and Tandridge District councillor for Lingfield and Crowhurst ward, was contacted for comment.