LIVERPOOL’S commitment to improve services for people with dementia and their carers is to be boosted, as it is on the verge of agreeing a new £21m partnership with Shaw healthcare to build three new residential care homes.The three, 50 bed flexible facilities will open by the end of 2019, providing state-of-the art accommodation and care for people living with dementia, as well as those with other long term residential and nursing care needs in the north, central and southern parts of the city.They will help reduce the number of people unnecessarily delayed in hospital following NHS treatment and improve their experience of health and social care services by driving up quality standards.They will be flexible step-up, step-down facilities, meaning they can be used to support people with lower level needs who would otherwise end up in hospital, as well as providing intermediate care to help get people out of hospital quicker.The city council already spends almost £50 million a year on residential and nursing care, plus a further £11 million on dementia and memory loss services. It has shielded social care as much as it can from the cuts in its funding from central Government since 2010.The first new centre will be at the Venmore Rehabilitation Hub in Anfield, with the existing stroke services relocated to a new site in Townsend Lane.A second will be on disused playing fields at the former Parklands High School, close to Speke district centre. The council is currently considering a number of sites for a third centre in the north of the city.The investment – being considered by the Cabinet on Friday 1 September – is part of a commitment by the council to meet the rising demand for dementia care services, as well as increased need for quality respite facilities for carers by 2020. The council will borrow the money to build the centres with the repayments covered by income from the leases on each site.Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We have already invested heavily in creating new social care hubs across the city in recent years, but our increasing elderly population means that we are facing a significant challenge in ensuring that there is sufficient capacity within our social care system to meet the needs of people with dementia and other long-term care needs.“This is against a backdrop of rising demand, significant cuts to our budget from central Government of £420 million between 2010 and 2020 and increasing pressure on wider healthcare services.“The decision to invest in three purpose-built care homes that will offer residential and nursing dementia beds and carer respite is part of our invest to save strategy and will help ease pressure on other, more costly parts of the health service such as hospital beds, and save the public purse money.“Crucially, they will also act as flexible care hubs that can meet surges in demand and help to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and delays in ward discharges.”Shaw healthcare was selected as the preferred provider for the project following a competitive tender process that also involved the employee-owned company signing up to the Liverpool Social Value Charter. Over the duration of the contract, Shaw healthcare will develop skills and training programmes in conjunction with local colleges, work with Job Centre Plus to offer local employment opportunities, create work placements and apprenticeships across all facilities and deliver on a commitment to the procurement of goods and services through local companies.The next step will be for the council to apply for secure planning consent for the three facilities, each designed by Kier Architects to a future-proofed, dementia-friendly specification. Construction will be undertaken by Willmott Dixon Construction as part of the Scape National Framework, which already has a proven record in maximising spend through the local supply chain and the creation of sustainable apprenticeships in the construction sector. Post construction, the council will enter into a 25-year lease agreement with Shaw healthcare to manage the care services provided at each location.