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Homes offer dignity and respect for people with learning disabilities. 27.1.10

Ten new homes in Carshalton set a new national standard for accommodation for people with physical and learning disabilities, says Sutton Council.

Ashcombe Court

At the official opening of Ashcombe Court, today (Wednesday 27 January), Tom Brake MP joined health professionals and council heads to see how the purpose built flats are changing the lives of their new tenants and allowing them to live as independently as possible.

The homes, funded by the Department of Health, NHS Sutton and Merton and Progress Care Housing Association, were purpose built for 10 of the last 18 people living on the Orchard Hill Hospital site in Carshalton, England's last long-stay hospital for adults with a learning disability. The remaining eight people will also move into their own, purpose built homes in April this year. Sutton and Merton Councils have been working closely with the NHS to return all the former Orchard Hill residents to their local community.

The Ashcombe Court tenants moved into their new homes in December 2009 and this development is the first of its type in the UK for citizens with profound and multiple learning disabilities. The flats have been designed in conjunction with relatives, carers, support staff and advocates.

Each of the one-bed, self-contained homes features an open plan kitchen/lounge, bedroom and bathroom, tailored to the needs of people who use large wheelchairs. The latest equipment and assistive technology has been installed, such as seizure sensors, to ensure that people live as independently as possible.

The development includes a place for staff to sleep, a shared laundry, communal lounge, and two additional spa bathrooms. There is also a sensory garden for the tenants.

The landlord, Progress Care Housing Association, will manage and maintain the building and rent the flats at affordable levels. Each tenant has an individual support plan to help them live within the community and access local services and shops.

The development was project managed by Sutton Council and designed by Baily Garner architects and cost £3m.

Cllr Colin Stears, Executive Member for Adult Social Services and Housing on Sutton Council, said:

"This superb development is making the lives of its new tenants so much better.

"It's the first of its kind in the UK and combines the best in design with the latest in technology to allow people with complex and profound health needs to live as independently as possible, and with the dignity they deserve.

"When the tenants moved in last month it was another important milestone in the Orchard Hill reprovision project.

"By working with NHS Sutton and Merton and Merton Council we are providing new, better homes for some of our most vulnerable residents. The results are life-changing both for them and their families."

Dr Martyn Wake, Medical Director at NHS Sutton and Merton, said:

"This opening marks an important milestone in the closure of Orchard Hill. The flats have state-of-the-art technology to aid daily living and help the residents to take a much fuller part in society than they have in the past. 

"This is a significant achievement for all our staff – both in the local authority and the PCT - who have worked hard to ensure that people with learning disabilities are treated like independent adults with the right to live in ordinary neighbourhoods, but with all the expert support and help they need."

On behalf of Progress Care Housing Association, Group Director of Development and New Business, Gareth Jackson, said: "Progress Care Housing Association is delighted to have been appointed to work closely with its Partners to deliver this exciting new build housing solution, for people being resettled into the community from Orchard Hill Hospital.

"Progress Care specialises in the delivery of high quality accommodation offering an independent living environment, where people can enjoy the benefits of an Assured Tenancy.

"Ashcombe Court will provide its residents with the opportunity to live independently but with specialist facilities to enrich the quality of life – Progress Care Housing prides itself on delivering long-term sustainable housing solutions that become people's homes for life."

Last updated: Monday, 12 April 2010

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