Pioneering work in North Yorkshire is being held up as an example of how to tackle social care and housing challengees.

Extra care work in the county has created 1,500 apartments where older and disabled people can live in their own communities.

A conference with Government-appointed task force members and leading figures in the social care service has been held to mark the 20th anniversary of the first extra care scheme in North Yorkshire.

At the conference, in Harrogate, more than 200 people were given the chance to see how the developments have allowed older and disabled people to remain living independently while care workers are available to support them.

It highlighted the barriers and opportunities in tackling the pressures linked with delivering housing for older people. In North Yorkshire a third of the population - more than 215,000 people - will be over 65.

Representatives visited extra care schemes in Sowerby and Thirsk to speak to residents and staff.

The chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, Lord Best, spoke at the conference.

He also chaired the Hanover Housing Association responsible for extra care housing schemes in North Yorkshire and has overseen nine inquiries for the Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation.

He said: "North Yorkshire deserves real credit and appreciation for becoming a leading council in this important field.

"As we share lessons learnt over 20 years, we must hope that others will be inspired to follow the example of North Yorkshire for the benefit of thousands more older people."

It is predicted that 38,000 new homes for rent for older people will be needed nationally on an annual basis - this contrasts with 8,000 properties a year provided in the past decade.

There are now 28 extra care housing schemes in North Yorkshire, with properties for rent and to buy, and more developments planned.

They offer purpose-built housing as well as on-site round the clock care workers, some facilities have libraries, shops or cafes. Originally there were going to be 20 sites by 2025, now it is expected to be 30.

Anne Swales, 83, who has lived at Meadowfields Extra Care in Thirsk for six months, said: "It has been such a welcoming environment that I found myself in, with both the other residents and staff.

The Northern Echo: Julienne Meyer of the Task Force with  Anne Swales, 83

"I have been able to keep my independence, which is such an important thing for me, while knowing that help is there should I need it.

"It was a privilege to be able to explain how extra care has changed so many people’s lives to the task force, and I hope they were able to see just how important these schemes are."

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison said: "We have seen the significant benefits that extra care has brought to thousands of people in North Yorkshire throughout the last 20 years, allowing them to live independently in the communities that they love.

"The conference gave us an opportunity to highlight the good work undertaken here in North Yorkshire, while also looking towards the future.

"To have some of the most respected and knowledgeable people in the sector come together to discuss the challenges which we are facing both here in North Yorkshire and nationally was invaluable.

“This has given us the chance to share our experiences and show how extra care can provide at least some of the answers to the significant challenges across the country to ensure we have the care provision that will be needed for generations to come."