BUILDING work on a long-awaited £12.5million care home including specialist rooms to reduce bed-blocking at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals has passed significant milestone.

On Wednesday the cornerstone was laid at the £12.5m Albion Mill extra care complex in Ewood marking a major step forward in the project.

The vital building block was out in place by Cllr Brian Taylor, Blackburn with Darwen Council's health and adult social care boss, and Roy Kenny, chief executive of its specialist developer Verum Victum Healthcare.

The scheme will provide 109 beds, including 50 extra care apartments, 31 en-suite rooms for intermediate care, 24 dementia apartments and four rehabilitation apartments.

Some 35 of the rooms are aimed at enabling elderly and frail patents to be discharged from the Blackburn and Burnley hospitals with appropriate convalescent care releasing beds for new patients.

Watching on approvingly as Cllr Taylor and Mr Kenny wielded their trowels and mortar was Roger Parr, deputy chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group.

Two four-storey residential blocks will be linked by a three-storey building providing communal areas for use by the residents including dining room, TV lounge, library, hair salon, gym, consulting rooms, kitchen and staff accommodation.

The scheme, scheduled for completion early next year, includes landscaping, parking, roadways and footpaths.

Mr Kenny said: "This new development will provide state of the art facilities for elderly people in Blackburn:

“We’ve worked closely with the local NHS and the council to shape our plans.

“By mixing extra care, specialised dementia care and intermediate care in one bespoke development we can deliver enhanced outcomes at lower cost to local authorities and clinical commissioners.”

Cllr Taylor said: “This project offers so much potential to improve the quality of life for our older people and help maintain independence.

"We have modelled this scheme on the need for a more integrated and seamless approach.

"It is the first time in this borough that a range of services for older and infirm people will be brought together on one site.

"The intermediate care provision will be a great asset.”

Cllr Jacquie Slater, borough Conservative health spokeswoman, said: "This is excellent news.

"I am delighted. It has been a long time coming but will be worth it.

"It will reduce the pressure for bends on the two hospitals by allowing people who could not otherwise be sent home to be discharged into an appropriate care setting."