Cllr Mary Butler Michelle Arrowsmith site manager Steve Walker

Work on building South Tyneside’s £9m centre of excellence for joined-up care for older people, expected to be the largest of its kind in the country, has reached the half-way point.

It is being built by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of South Tyneside Council in response to a growing ageing population. It will offer older people, particularly those with dementia, a wide range of support and services, including residential, day and respite care and rehabilitation, all in one place.

Since constructor Robertson Group began on-site in May this year in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital, the scheme to provide the Borough with the pioneering, state-of-the-art integrated health and social care hub has progressed according to schedule and it is on course for opening next year.

Trust Chief Operating Officer Michelle Arrowsmith said: “It is exciting to see the building really taking shape, knowing that every day we are moving closer to providing the community with a much-needed, purpose-built facility fit for the future. We believe it will be the largest of its kind in the country and that it will be a shining example of provision of excellent care for older people and their families and carers.”

Councillor Mary Butler, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Support Services, said: “It is wonderful to see this fabulous facility come to life before our eyes.

“Reaching this half-way point is a significant milestone in the delivery of this ambitious project. It is great news that this state-of-the-art centre is right on track to open next year when it will offer enhanced and co-ordinated services to people with dementia, their families and carers.”

Robertson Construction, the contractor for the project, finished the steel frame in August, before completing the works below ground, including drainage, and forming the ground floor. With much of the ground floor in place, work then began on walls and construction of the first floor. The roof structure commenced in September and, as areas become watertight, internal works are being carried out, including partitioning to form all the rooms and preparations for the installation of mechanical and electrical services and the under-floor heating.

So far, 1,000 cubic metres of concrete have been poured, 175 tons of steel have been erected and 10,000 metres of metal framing have been used. Eventually, 20,000 square metres of plasterboard will be in place, using half a million screws, and there will be 325 doors and 5,000 square metres of flooring.

The next steps are completion of the roof works, continuation of internal works and considering details such as internal doors, colours and finishes, reception desks and fixed furniture.

Andy McLeod, Managing Director of Robertson Construction England, said: “We are delighted to be part of this pioneering project and to support South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust in enhancing its services for older people. Progress on-site has been excellent and we are looking forward to completing the centre of excellence.”

Innovation is at the heart of the building design by P&HS Architects, which incorporates the latest research and thinking to create a safe and secure environment that suits people’s needs. Special features include colour schemes to help people find their way around and support independent living. It has also been designed with efficiency in mind and the aim is to achieve an ‘excellent’ rating from BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method), which sets the standards of best practice in sustainable design. An excellent rating would put the hub in the top 10 per cent of non-domestic buildings for environmental performance.