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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 transform into accessible housing, so that the village can “retain some form of care provision” according to the new owners behind the plans.

Albyn Housing Society has announced plans to transform Mo Dhachaidh care home’s former staff accommodation blocks into four one-bedroom accessible homes, with hopes of allowing people to live independently for longer.

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 being bought 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 triggered protests and a petition from locals. The closure also cast doubt on the long-term future of the Ullapool Health Centre, located within the same building.

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Then in January of this year, it was revealed that Highland Hospice had bought Mo Dhachaidh, and would rent the premises to NHS Highland to provide a steady income for the charity while securing the building’s future.

While Highland Hospice remains the owner of the main former Mo Dhachaidh 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, utilise predictive behaviour pattern sensors alongside artificial intelligence and machine learning.

It is said that the homes will be fitted with sensors that share real-time information with family members, caregivers or key workers with permission — but according to Albyn Housing they “still offer a high degree of privacy” to occupants unlike cameras. This is hoped to relieve the strain on social care by allowing tenants to live independently for longer.

Kirsty Morrison, group chief executive of Albyn Housing Society said: “We knew there was a lot of concern amongst the local community when the care home closed last year and Albyn was keen to play our part in ensuring there would still be a form of social care 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 in their own home independently for longer. It often helps them remain in their local community too, which is often a challenge with such a wide geographical base as is the case in the Highlands.

“With funding from the Scottish Government and The Highland Council we will be able to provide much needed social housing in Ullapool as well as provide peace of mind for the families of those who will live 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.

“Last year's closure of Mo Dhachaidh was a severe blow to residents, staff, and the entire Ullapool community, however, with this new project led by Albyn providing independent living options, and NHS Highland still operating 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 am looking forward to seeing the benefits they can bring to Ullapool.”

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