Not-for-profit care village operator Belong, which has a location on Lower Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, has taken the title for Best Care Provision at this year’s HealthInvestor Seniors Housing Awards.

The national award is recognition of the provider’s innovative approach to care, including its pioneering village model and adoption of technology to improve outcomes for apartment tenants, as well as its response to the coronavirus pandemic and commitment to sustainable growth.

Commenting on the win, Belong’s Chief Executive, Tracey Stakes, said: “Judging was based on all aspects of our organisation, from leadership and training and development opportunities to growth and potential for future expansion. To receive such an accolade is therefore a vote of confidence in our unique model and our strong platform to diversify into further locations around the UK and achieve our aim of providing increasing numbers of people with access to our industry-leading care.”

Belong provides a range of housing, care and support options for older people, with apartments for independent living as well as households for people requiring 24-hour care centred around a village hub providing a range of amenities, including a bistro, hair salon, exercise studio and function rooms.

There are currently Belong villages in Atherton, Crewe, Didsbury, Macclesfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Wigan and Warrington, with further sites under development in Chester and Birkdale. In 2020, the go-ahead was given for a 25-place nursery within Belong Chester, which will make it the first intergenerational care village in the North West when it opens its doors early next year.

Belong adapted its apartment services in a number of ways during the pandemic, from increasing the frequency of its daily check-in calls, to providing socially distanced activities, resource packs, takeaway services, grocery deliveries and digital services, including the launch of the Belong Active YouTube channel, with exercise videos for older people recorded by the villages’ specialist fitness instructor (Joe Wickes style).

Technology was also key to updating residents’ families and friends about the well-being of their loved ones during multiple lockdowns, with the roll-out of electronic care records (Person-Centred Software) to apartment tenants enabling wellbeing notes and Covid status to be logged following daily check-in calls. Regular communication played a vital role in ensuring tenants felt informed, both about the ever-changing Government guidance and about the status of services within Belong villages.

In other awards success, Belong has been shortlisted in the Housing with Care category at the prestigious LaingBuisson Awards 2021, the winners of which will be announced at a ceremony at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza hotel in London in November.

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