MORE than 1,500 ‘extra care’ home places need to be found in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area in the coming years.

The strategy is part of BCP Council's aim to reduce its reliance on expensive private care home provision for those who cannot afford to pay for their places.

Senior councillors also believe that the homes, where the levels of support can be adjusted, are better for people’s wellbeing and sense of community.

Portfolio holder Cllr Karen Rampton told this week’s council Cabinet meeting that although the area had 113 care homes a high proportion of the spaces were taken by self-funders who could afford the fees – leaving the council having to meet the bills demanded, or not take the places.

“We don’t control the market so we need to find an alternative model,” she said.

Other proposals will look at reviewing commissioning of services, the fee structure and supporting people, with the help of grants for adaptations and other means, to stay in their own homes for longer.

The meeting heard that work has already started on identifying up to 55 sites across the area for the extra care homes.

Said Cllr Rampton: “The last thing in my head is anything institutional. I see open spaces, apartments and bungalows, duck ponds and benches and places where people can walk and enjoy the natural environment.”

She said the extra care homes would not only be for older people, but could be made available to those with a learning disability or mental health challenges.

Council leader Drew Mellor said he saw the strategy as “an opportunity to intervene and not be dictated to by the market” giving people the chance for a better quality of life in their own homes with the correct support offered when it was needed without the need to move somewhere else.

The meeting also approved a grants scheme, of up to £30,000, to assist people who require adaptations to their home to allow them to stay safer for longer. The scheme, expected to begin from January 2022, will be offered by the council-owned Seascape South Ltd.