DESPITE escalating costs, work on the region’s first privately-run specialist residential unit for people with severe dementia is set to get under way next week.

When the planning go-ahead for the 18-bedroom new-build development next to the Queen’s House care home in Kelso was given in March, the estimated cost of construction was put at £3m.

“It’s true the cost at the planning stage was £3 million, but since the tenders for construction have come in, the building costs have risen to £3.5m,” explained Ray Jones, chair of the Queen’s House trustees who are behind the new project.

“To this, we have to add around £1 million for the legal, surveying, architecture and ground costs bringing our total outlay to £4.5 million. Buildings of this sort are never cheap.

A “ground-breaking” ceremony to mark the start of construction will take place on Monday.

The new unit, which will be known as Murray House at the request of a major anonymous donor, will be up and running in November next year.

It is being built on ground adjacent to Queen’s House in Kelso’s Angraflats Road and consist of 18 large bedrooms, two common rooms, a reception, laundry, kitchen, offices, quiet room and beauty room.

Queen’s House was built as a 26-bed care home in 2000 and later extended to 32 beds, offering residential, nursing and dementia care to residents of both sexes.

“The home has too many people on the waiting list and there is an urgent need to build a specialist unit for severe dementia residents, especially as the number of Borderers aged over 75 is set to double over the next 20 years,” said Jane Douglas, executive care director of Queen’s House.

She confirmed that 30 additional staff would be required to run the dementia facility, in addition to the 60 currently employed at the care home.