Pathways hosted an interesting meeting with members of the West London Almshouses Group yesterday. We all caught up with the key issues we are dealing with, Dementia was quite high on the list as well as issues around becoming an incorporated charity and the implication for Almshouses of the Brexit vote, ( no one knew except if property prices fall then some development schemes are going to be less viable). We then took some of the group around a couple of our schemes.
Part of the informal discussion over lunch was about minimum standards for Almshouse accommodation. While most of the Pathways stock is quite good we do have some very old properties which are very small with difficult access, sometimes bedsit studios and not really good accommodation for elderly people. They are often listed as well, which makes putting in double glazing and other improvements difficult and sometimes impossible.
I have drafted a discussion paper for our board which proposes we dispose of these properties and re provide them as part of a new development. I can see that there could be considerable difficulties in taking this approach and we would need the support of the Almshouses Association as well formal consent from the Charity Commission. I think we need to deal with this issue though and I suspect that we are not the only Almshouse organisation which has some stock which is designed for expectations of past times. It is bound to raise some sensitivities and many people may oppose such a strategy.