Care home, sheltered housing, stair-lift…or Carepod?
Whether we like to think about it or not, we’re all going to reach an age where extra thought has to be given to our choice of living space. For those who particularly value their independence and the familiarity of their surroundings, could a garden Carepod be the answer?
With all the scientific knowledge and advice that’s around these days, we’ve never had a better chance to look after ourselves and enjoy our retirement years to the full – especially if we can adapt our living conditions to best suit our needs.
Sometimes that might mean installing a stair-lift, down-sizing to a bungalow to avoid the stairs altogether, or widening doors and adding ramps to accommodate wheelchair access. Changing care needs and health issues may even mean that a residential care home becomes the most sensible option. But might you consider staying as close to home as you can get…like in the garden?
Mini homes in the garden
A Carepod is a modular mini-home that’s typically located in the garden of a house belonging to either a member an elderly person’s family, friend or carer, depending on circumstances, personal preferences and the flexibility of finances. The resident’s close proximity to friends and family allows easy social access and day-to-day support, whilst giving mutual private space and a level of independence that many people just aren’t ready to give up.
Granny annexe mark 2
The concept is similar to that of the ‘granny-annexe’ but brings things right up to date with the use of steel-framed modular construction, innovative building materials and low-impact siting that allows Carepods to be easily removed, re-purposed or re-sold when no longer required. Standards of construction and specification are high, with fully insulated wall, floor and ceiling panels, low-cost underfloor heating and aluminium-framed double-glazed windows and doors. Options include bi-folding doors, CCTV/online monitoring and alarms, voice-activated and automated control, and variable-height surfaces for wheelchair users.
Standard or bespoke layouts
Carepods come in a choice of three standard layouts which can then be adapted to integrate personal care equipment and personalised with the residents’ choice of interior and exterior finish. All Carepods are single-level and specifically designed as comfortable, cosy living spaces with the elderly, infirm or vulnerable in mind. Being located within a garden, often in already-familiar surroundings, keeps residents in touch with nature and the changing seasons, comfortable in the knowledge that people are close by, whether to chat over a coffee or to sometimes lend a helping hand if it’s needed.
Extremely fast installation
Carepods differ from traditional brick buildings in that they can either be constructed on-site, if access is limited, or be factory-built and transported to site in sections, ready for assembly. This approach, and their innovative design, can avoid hold-ups caused by bad-weather, speeds up construction time and brings the move-in date forward – particularly useful if swift action is needed to re-locate a loved one.
Lightweight modular building methods can also cause much less site disruption as foundations and module siting are easier and materials more contained. All efforts are made to minimise disturbing the immediate garden environment so that the new dwelling will integrate into the surroundings as sympathetically as possible.
Prior to hand-over, all utilities and amenities – electricity, water, drainage, sewerage, Wi-Fi etc – are connected and the surrounding area landscaped to the preferred specification – with decking, patio, flower beds, lawn, pathways, fences etc. Unlike with bricks-and-mortar construction, where you can effectively be left with a new building surrounded by a vacated building site, everything is finished to the pre-agreed state, ready to move belongings in and turn your Carepod into a home.
Two of the big benefits of Carepods are their common-sense practicality and cost-effectiveness compared to the disruption of making extensive home modifications and the sacrifice of personal space, plus very high monthly charges, that can be incurred with care homes. Carepods can be purchased outright, enabling re-purposing or resale if no-longer needed, or financed (including options involving no initial outlay), making them a highly flexible option when it comes to conserving a person’s life-savings and assets.
Carepods are designed and manufactured in Norfolk by North Burlingham-based Modular Works Ltd.
Paul Green, Director, explained how they came about, saying:
“With the Carepod, we wanted to bring together everything that we would want for our own parents – and ourselves – at this time of life.
We already had in-depth knowledge of renewable materials, lightweight steel buildings and modular construction – so we focused on how it could all be brought together to work in the best way for people at this stage of their lives.”
If the circumstances are right for the individuals concerned, a Carepod can be a really common-sense option for looking after elderly, infirm and vulnerable relatives – one that offers financial flexibility whilst allowing them to still have a place to be themselves.