BLACKBURN’S ‘biggest eyesore’ will be demolished to make way for a £4.8 million state-of-the-art dementia care home for the elderly.
Based on a pioneering Manchester project, it will provide 64 beds for the frailest pensioners and comprehensive outreach services for Alzheimers sufferers on the site of the former Blackburn Royal Infirmary’s decaying War Memorial Wing.
The scheme, by award-winning charity Community Integrated Care, aims to preserve key elements of the 86-year-old building erected after the First World War, including its coat of arms, foundation stone, mosaic floor and stone arches.
Campaigners fighting to keep alive the wing’s history welcomed the new blueprint, which will provide 100 new permanent posts as well scores of jobs during construction, as ‘the best of a bad job’.
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Work on the new building will start by autumn for opening in late summer next year.
Community Integrated Care will provide unique ‘EachStep’ provision of outreach care in sufferers’ homes per week.
Once sufferers can no longer stay in their homes full medical and nursing care will be provided in the purpose-built premises, a concept trialled successfully in Blackley Manchester.
The aim is to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible.
Blackburn Local History Society chairman Ray Smith said: “This is Blackburn’s biggest eyesore. The building has gone to wrack and ruin.
“This is the best solution in the circumstances.”
Photographs inside show the dereliction of the wing built to honour the injured and fallen in the 1914-1918 conflict, with collapsed ceilings, broken windows and grafitti spray painted on walls.
Blackburn, Darwen and Rural Civic Voice secretary Simon Hugill said: “This is the best of a bad job. We will work with the developers to preserve the wing’s history .”
Borough regeneration boss and Ewood councillor Maureen Bateson said: “This is a good use of the building which honours its original purpose and saves its history.
“It is part of regenerating the borough and deals with the town’s biggest eyesore.”
The three-storey 64-bed care home, named ‘EachStep Blackburn’, will provide respite, support, residential and nursing care.
It will have a complementary service delivering home care in the local community, helping people live in their own homes for longer.
It will include a café, landscaped gardens and meeting rooms for community use.
The wing was left standing when the rest of the infirmary was razed in 2007 for a new housing estate, and it had initially been hoped it could be redeveloped.
The scheme will complete work on the site by David Wilson Homes North West, which has created ‘The Royals’ estate of 116 properties.
The care home is part of Blackburn with Darwen council’s strategy to modernise care keeping older residents living independently and avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.
The borough and CIC, one of the UK’s largest social care charities, has already conducted a study to identify and retain important features of the building as a public art display on nearby borough-owned land.
CIC chief executive Neil Matthewman said: “The proposed service will offer the very highest standards of dementia support. We will give people in Blackburn, and their loved ones, comfort and stability.”
Council health boss Mohammed Khan said: “This is an exciting step. We are confident this is exactly what we need.”
Borough Liberal Democrat leader David Foster said: “This is Blackburn’s biggest and most dangerous eyesore. This is a good use for it.”
EachStep Blackley has been recognised internationally, being shortlisted for 12 care sector awards in 2013, and praised by government care tzar Professor Alistair Burns as ‘one of the most innovative care services I have seen.’