About Almshouses Today
While many of us may be aware of the many ancient and fine almshouse buildings dotted all over the country, few perhaps realise how vibrant and progressive the almshouse movement is today. The task of the Association is to assist charities to modernise and update almshouse dwellings to provide 21st century living, either in contemporary, purpose built flats/cottages or by refurbishing listed buildings and so preserving our rich national heritage.
Upgrading listed buildings is complex and expensive, requiring planning and conservation consent. Striking the right balance between offering the highest standards while preserving the historic fabric demands patience and close liaison with the authorities. Inevitably the cost of refurbishment is proportionately more expensive than a new build but the Association works hard to assist trustees as the reward of living in a fine building that offers a high specification for the resident is self evident.
Standards of accommodation are continually rising, with technology playing an increasing part in making life easier. Disabled access, internet connection, electric doors and sophisticated alarms all contribute towards enabling residents to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. Conversion of bed sits to single or double bedroom accommodation; walk in showers and the provision of buggy stores are amongst the many improvements being provided.
Of greatest importance is to ensure that residents have dignity, freedom and independence to live their lives as they see fit within a safe and secure environment. Almshouses are considered homes for life, with care packages being provided by social services if and when residents need additional help. Whilst there are over 400 wardens or scheme managers employed by almshouse charities, and a number of larger charities offer extra care and even residential care, the general position is that almshouse residents should be capable of independent living.