Abbeyfield in Heathfield set to grow in size

A HEATHFIELD home for independent older people looks set to be extended. The Abbeyfield South Downs Society, which offers sheltered accommodation for the elderly in nine houses across Sussex, has major development plans in the pipeline.

The charity hopes to build four new homes in Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and Heathfield to replace the existing accommodation.

Chairman of Abbeyfield South Downs, Michael Staff MBE said: “Our room sizes are already bigger than Government requirements but the society is moving slowly towards providing properties with two rooms. The developments we are planning will bring us into the 21st century.”

It is hoped to start at Eastbourne but progress could be made sooner at Heathfield because, subject to planning permission, there is enough land in the grounds to enable building to begin while the present home stays open.

Abbeyfield South Downs was formed following a merger last year between four societies, Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne, Hastings and Heathfield. Its aim is to enhance the quality of life and reduce loneliness for older people by offering residents a secure environment to live in, with 24 hour staff cover.

In all the houses residents are free to carry on with their normal lives without restriction, as the house is their home and their rooms have their own front doors.

The existing Heathfield Abbeyfield, currently home to eight residents, will remain for the short term although Michael Staff hopes it will eventually be replaced by a purpose-built home. Development means people who come in while relatively independent will be able to remain as their care needs increase.

Residents pay a very competitive fee which covers all costs, except personal items and personal telephones. Potential residents with financial difficulties are assisted to apply for Housing Benefit.

Michael said: “Loneliness and lack of interest in food are big problems as people get older and we offer a comfortable base for our residents for most of the rest of their lives without any worries about maintenance, heat or lighting bills and on a full board basis. There is companionship too during shared mealtimes and at other times if they so wish.”