Specialist social care developer Fairhome Group has announced a £25m investment in the Northern Ireland care sector as part of its plans to bring a new funding model to the province.
The group has been working with major stakeholders for the last nine months to create an investment package for the development and provision of care facilities and services.
An initial £25m will be invested in a number of schemes across Northern Ireland, with the first set to open shortly in Belfast. The group is now setting up an infrastructure in Northern Ireland with offices already identified.
The investment marks a significant step for the care sector in Northern Ireland, which has struggled in recent years to attract private investment and has faced cuts in grant funding.
However, Fairhome Group has developed a privately funded property solution model that overcomes this difficulty.
The model creates significant cost savings for health and social care trusts through a person-centred approach to care, at the same time delivering positive health and well-being outcomes for individuals.
Fairhome Group has worked with representatives from the province’s five health trusts and various leading health care experts to replicate the group’s privately funded model in Northern Ireland.
The group is now working with funders to provide investment for new care facilities. It will then develop the properties, via new build or redevelopment of existing buildings, and then work with housing and care providers to manage the assets for the long term.
John Russell, Executive Chairman at Fairhome Group, said: “The big challenge the care sector in Northern Ireland has faced is bringing in investment, we firmly believed from the start that our model could be adapted to work in the province.
“Key to this was creating a scheme that gives certainty to investors and at the same time demonstrates value for money for the public purse. The Housing Executive knew this would involve working with strategic partnerships which we have done successfully elsewhere in the UK.
“We have spent a considerable amount of time refining and testing our model and we now have a plan that will bring in substantial investment across the province over the coming years.
“We view the £25m funding as just the start of a long-term investment and development of high quality care facilities by the group and our partners in Northern Ireland – the Housing Executive has been extremely supportive of our plans and we look forward to developing our relationship.”
Mervyn Storey, former Northern Ireland Executive Minister for Finance and Personnel, said: “The care sector in Northern Ireland has faced a number of challenges, the primary one being attracting private funding.
“Fairhome came to us with a model they believed could work and we were keen to explore how this could be adapted for the province.
“It was critical for us that any model provided value for money for the tax payer.
“Through a considerable amount of research and testing, the Fairhome model appears to achieve this.
“We welcome this initial investment and sites are already in place for development and service users identified to occupy the properties.”
Professor Peter Roberts, Interim Chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, said Fairhome had been “very open” in their approach to looking at options and understood clearly what is needed in Northern Ireland.
“They recognised early in our discussions that they would need to create a bespoke model that suited Northern Ireland’s circumstances and needs.
“We believe they now have a model that will provide high specification modern facilities – this initial £25 million investment represents the start of a new approach and will bring long term benefits to the sector,” he said.