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Charlie Ratchford Court case study

This case study exemplify one or more of the Principles of Excellence that was identified during the research and engagement work of the Commission on the Role of housing in the future of care and support.

Model of housing or service: housing with care

Principles of excellence: community connectednessperson centred and outcome focusedadopting innovationco-production and shared decision making

Introduction and overview

Charlie Ratchford Court, in the heart of Camden, London, is a new extra care housing scheme run by Camden Council which first opened its doors in April 2021. The scheme includes 38 self-contained flats, 32 one-bed and six two-bed units, with 24-hour care and support available on-site. There is also one guest suite, so that tenants’ family and friends can stay at the scheme when visiting. In addition, there is a large ground floor with indoor and outdoor space for tenants to enjoy, including communal space which it is hoped will also be used by the local community. There are also plans to develop a community café on-site. Charlie Ratchford Court has been developed to address the need for extra care housing in Camden. Camden Council has funded it as part of its Community Investment Programme (CIP). The scheme is intergenerational and is available to anyone who has adult social care support needs and there is no lower age limit for residents. Pets are also welcome. Charlie Ratchford Court was designed with the belief that ‘Your last home can still be your best home’.

Improving outcomes through co-production and shared decision-making.

A willingness from Camden Council to look at things in a new way and learn from others resulted in research, co-production and consultation being key elements in the planning of Charlie Ratchford Court. Research was conducted into existing schemes in the UK and overseas. This was combined with extensive engagement with people who draw on support, carers, practitioners, stakeholders and residents. A ‘Concept Day’ was held in September 2019 with 32 people, which included key members, officers, partners and stakeholders to scope the model. In addition, six engagement sessions were held between September and November 2019 with 31 potential residents, carers, and practitioners to explore a preferred model of delivery. As a result of this consultation, a unique and innovative service model has been created. A tenant-led forum has been developed to provide continuous feedback on satisfaction and quality as the scheme moves forward.

At Charlie Ratchford Court the Council is developing a model of support which can be ‘flexed’ to meet the changing needs of tenants. The recruitment of staff has been given considerable thought and the way forward has been inspired by discussion with two of the designers of Buurtzog and research into the working of Wellbeing Teams. (Buurtzog is a pioneering healthcare organisation established in 2006 with a nurse-led model of holistic care that revolutionised community care in the Netherlands. Wellbeing Teams, founded by Helen Sanderson in 2016, is self-managed with a focus on co-producing support plans with those receiving the support.)

The Council engaged Wellbeing Teams to provide consultancy support in setting up the service. The Council was particularly inspired by its use of a values-based recruitment model. Instead of CVs and interviews, Wellbeing Teams recruits through conversations and workshops, intentionally looking for people from outside health and care, who align with its values.

Charlie Ratchford Court has adopted a similar values-based recruitment policy. Staff are recruited based on their values, not just their experience, with job descriptions focusing on bringing the ‘whole self’ to work. Staff induction, training and coaching was initially provided by Wellbeing Teams, who are experts in the field. It trained the Charlie Ratchford Court leadership team in its methodology, which is being adapted to suit the needs of the service. Management have also invested in appointing a Community Connector, highlighting the value being placed on developing community connectedness. The aspiration is that Charlie Ratchford Court will become a real asset which is enjoyed by the whole community, as well as supporting the people who live there to make full use of their local environment.

Hicham Davy, Community Connector
I'm here to know what's happening locally so I can support people to get involved with whatever activities and events are ongoing with the local community.

Promoting independence through innovative care models

The innovative care model at Charlie Ratchford Court is based on resident-focused teams that can be ‘flexed’ to respond to changing needs. Staff work in teams with residents in a strengths-based way, and focus on building people’s strengths, independence, resilience and wellbeing. The team works with individuals to plan their support by mutual agreement, rather than being tied to time-and-task. A Care Quality Commission Registered Manager is in place to support the team and ensure regulatory compliance. Given the self-managing requirement and skills needed, staff are more highly paid than other care staff in the market, which should also aid recruitment, retention and support relationship-building with tenants.

Improving outcomes through inclusive and accessible design

Charlie Ratchford Court was designed by PRP Architects. Careful thought has been given to how the building itself can enhance the living experience of the residents while respecting the Victorian housing surrounding the site. A conscious decision was made to have just one entrance with large communal areas just inside the door to encourage a lively social heart to the scheme. The screens to these areas have been glazed to allow residents to see who is there before going in. The building also hosts community access hairdressers, a wellbeing suite, several activity rooms and a café. Tenants have their own key fob which then allows them to access the private residential areas. Each floor of the building has been colour-coded to allow for ease of orientation, particularly for people with dementia.

The apartments themselves are dual aspect, allowing natural light from both sides and ensuring good ventilation. They are accessed from a shared gallery rather than a corridor, enabling each resident to have a ‘real’ front door. Each apartment has its own private balcony which can be transformed into a winter balcony due to the inclusion of a folding screen which can be pulled across. Kitchens and bathrooms have been designed for ease of use and have space for a wheelchair, eye-level ovens and reinforced sinks should tenants need to lean on them for support. There is also an assisted bathing room should residents require it. A warden call system has been installed in every apartment and in the communal areas.

Every effort has been made to maximise outdoor space and natural light. The community café has a garden to each side, the residents’ lounge has a south-facing garden and top-floor apartments have stunning views over Camden.

More information about Charlie Ratchford Court can be found in this video.

Conclusions and key learning

Charlie Ratchford Court stood out to the Commission for a number of reasons. The co-production involved in its creation has resulted in a scheme with people and the community at its heart. The building has been carefully and thoughtfully designed to make best use of outdoor areas and maximise the amount of natural light entering the building. The apartments have been designed to encourage independence while allowing for increased support if needed. There is a strong focus on connecting with the local community which can encourage independence and enable residents to maintain and develop their interests and hobbies.

The use of self-managed teams who work with tenants to plan their support, allows for a focus on what people can do, rather than on what they can’t do. This flexible support will help tenants of all ages to live as independently as possible. Considerable thought has gone into developing an innovative approach to recruit the right staff to make the teams work, with a focus on values as well as experience.

Camden Council is hopeful that it can share its learning with other authorities.