Hammerson unveils £16m expansion scheme

By Barry Toberman, March 18, 2013

The Hammerson House care home in East Finchley has unveiled plans for a £16.5 million expansion and redevelopment project.

Hammerson — which last year merged with the Nightingale home in Clapham — will complete the scheme in two parts. A refurbishment of the property in The Bishops Avenue starts in May and is expected to take a year. The main building work will be from 2016-18.

The delay between the phases will help the fundraising drive as the second element will require the vast majority of funding, around £15 million. The charity will be approaching major donors.

Nightingale Hammerson chief executive Leon Smith reported that the money for the first phase had
been raised.

For part two, “we might be in a position to use some of our existing funds. But we don’t want to deplete funds. We don’t get a penny from central or local government for any capital project.”

The home currently has 75 residents and tenants with a capacity of 85. There will be a restriction on numbers during the redevelopment, which will eventually increase capacity by 20 per cent and provide bedrooms with modern facilities, plus dining and social areas for smaller groups.

“People with dementia are more comfortable in smaller clusters,” Mr Smith pointed out. “The accommodation has served its purpose admirably. But because of the increasing frailty of residents, the rooms are no longer suitable.” The “medical profile” of those entering care homes had changed considerably from past generations when “people used to come in more as a lifestyle choice. Now they come for the care. The building is extremely important but the care model is equally so. It continues to matter to people that they come into a Jewish environment and be with other Jews.

“We are creating a state-of-the-art home and anticipate a lengthy waiting list.”

Hammerson House chief executive Andrew Leigh said every effort would be made to minimise the impact on residents during the rebuilding. “The average age is 91 and the oldest person is 109. At times we have had a minyan of people over 100.”

Prior to joining Hammerson, Mr Leigh was Mr Smith’s deputy at Nightingale. He observed that “what made the merger so easy was that the philosophy of the homes was identical. The merger has strengthened things.”

Mr Smith has this month celebrated a personal milestone — working for Nightingale for 40 years. He was “deeply proud to be associated for so long with what I consider to be a shining example of quality care to those in need”.

Last updated: 11:50am, March 18 2013