The first residents have moved into a luxury £3m care complex at Parc Bryn Seiont, Caernarfon.
According to care organisation Pendine Park there has been a “phenomenal amount of interest” in the 16 companion living apartments in Caernarfon which are aimed at people from North West Wales.
The Parc Bryn Seiont scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and is designed primarily to allow couples to stay together when one or both of them needs social care support as well as for individuals looking for a luxury apartment with care.
It is next door to the bilingual Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre of excellence on Pant Road and the people living in the colour coordinated apartments have access to the medical care and support provided by the staff on site.
Once all the apartments are occupied, it will take the total number of people employed on the site to 140 and Pendine Park’s investment there to £10 million.
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “Parc Bryn Seiont is a totally new concept in social care that’s aimed both at keeping couples together or reuniting them if their health needs have meant them being split up.
“They could be married couples or equally they could be sisters or brothers or even close friends.
“The residents can choose between stylish one or two bedroom apartments with a private kitchen, dining area and lounge with luxury, en-suite bedrooms.
“It means they can enjoy the best of both worlds, their own apartment with the advantage of 24-hour care and neighbourly living, whether entertaining family or friends, or socialising in the communal lounges and safe outdoor spaces.
“Residents can also enrich their lives by choosing to take part in group recreation, including art, music, social events, reminiscence, exercise and hair and beauty.
“The idea was the result of a number of conversations I had with my wife Gill which was about the sort of care and support we might require and not wanting to be separated if one of us became ill.
“It occurred to us that there must be many couples who feel exactly the same way but we are not aware there is anything like this anywhere else in the UK.”
The importance of enabling elderly couples to stay together was recently underlined by Britain’s most senior family judge who said that separating them in care homes was inhumane because “people die of a broken heart”.
Sir James Munby, head of the family court, said that “uprooting” older people could cause them to decline more quickly and that the practice of splitting up elderly couples was “shocking”.
Mr Kreft endorsed the judge’s comments and added: “We believe the concept we have developed over the past five years fits perfectly with the aims and aspirations of the Welsh Government’s Social Care and Well-being Act.
“The apartments meet and exceed all the latest regulations and it is a registered setting so people will be able to receive all the care that they need when they need it, but they will have these unique apartments.
“There certainly isn’t anything like this in North Wales because essentially it’s a type of extra care plus plus.
“We have a track record of breaking new ground. For example, we created the first purpose built care facility in the independent sector in Wrexham in 1990.
“The other thing that sets us apart is the quality of our training and the Commissioner for Older People described our training materials world class.
“Everything we do, from the environment, to the design, the training, the gardens, everything is aimed at enriching people’s lives, and we heavily use the arts in that.
“We’ve had an artist in residence now for well over 20 years, and we have a musician in residence and a performing artist in residence in Caernarfon.
“In addition, we have a number of very talented, committed enrichment coordinators.
“Our training and development programme and the sheer quality of our facilities is , the culmination of more than 30 years’ experience in the sector.
“We are constantly striving to improve we do and the companion living apartments are going to be up there with some of the finest accommodation around and the early responses from people who know about these things has been overwhelming.
“We opened our first home in 1985 because it enabled our grandparents to be reunited and it will be wonderful to reunite other people who have been separated because of their health needs as well as providing luxury accommodation for individuals who need care.”