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Ullapool’s former Mo Dhachaidh care home to receive £1.1m accessible housing transformation

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Mo Dhachaidh care home, Ullapool.
Mo Dhachaidh care home, Ullapool.

Ullapool’s former Mo Dhachaidh Care Home is set to receive a £1.1m refurbishment to turn it into accessible housing, allowing the village to “retain some form of care provision” according to the new owners behind the plans.

The former staff accommodation building at the rear of the Mo Dhachaidh care home.
The former staff accommodation building at the rear of the Mo Dhachaidh care home.

Mo Dhachaidh Care Home closed in March 2023, just six months after it was purchased by Parklands Care Homes who cited the “most challenging economic conditions in decades”.

As one of the few nursing homes serving the north-west Highlands, the closure announcement sparked protests and a petition from local people. The closure also cast doubt on the long-term future of the Ullapool Health Centre, which is located in the same building.

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In January of this year, it was announced that Highland Hospice had purchased Mo Dhachaidh, and would lease the premises to NHS Highland, providing a steady income for the charity while securing the future of the building.

While Highland Hospice remains the owner of the main care home building and the Ullapool Health Centre, Albyn Housing is now the owner of the former care home staff accommodation blocks

The accommodation blocks are set to be renovated with Fit Homes, which as a part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, will use predictive behaviour pattern sensors alongside artificial intelligence and machine learning.

It is understood that the homes will be fitted with sensors that will share real-time information with family members, carersor key workers with permission — but unlike cameras, Alby Housing says they will still offer residents “a high degree of privacy”. It is hoped that this will reduce the burden on social care by enabling tenants to live independently for longer.

Kirsty Morrison, group chief executive of Albyn Housing Society said: “We knew there was a lot of concern in the local community when the care home closed last year and Albyn was keen to play our part in ensuring some form of social care was still available locally.

“Our state-of-the-art Fit Homes have been hugely successful in other parts of the Highlands including Lairg, Nairn and Dingwall, and mean that residents can live independently in their own home for longer. It also often helps them remain in their local community, which is often a challenge in a geographicaly diverse area such as the Highlands.

“With the funding from the Scottish Government and The Highland Council we will be able to provide much needed social housing in Ullapool and give peace of mind for the families of those who will be living in the homes once we have completed the refurbishment.

“Now we have the planning all sorted we aim to be on site later in the year.”

MSP Maree Todd in Ullapool. Picture: Iona MacDonald
MSP Maree Todd in Ullapool. Picture: Iona MacDonald

MSP for Ullapool, Maree Todd, added: “As someone who lives in the Ullapool area I know how important it is for local people to have the option to grow old in their own community.

“The closure of Mo Dhachaidh last year was a severe blow to residents, staff, and the wider Ullapool community, but with this new project led by Albyn providing independent living options, and NHS Highland continuing to run part of the former care home as a health centre, this building has a positive future at the heart of the community.

“Albyn Housing Society has done some incredible work in pioneering these Fit Homes in rural locations across the Highlands and I look forward to seeing the benefits they can bring to Ullapool.”

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