Letter: How 'village' life helps mentally handicapped

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The Independent Online
Sir: Neither the purchasing nor the providing agencies for the Buckinghamshire homes for people with mental handicap adequately involved the residents' families. They, apparently, learnt of the abuses from your reports (17, 20 September).

Rescare, the national society for mentally handicapped people in residential care, which represents families who seek lifelong care and support for people with a mental handicap, knows that the present system of locally administered registration and inspection of homes does not and cannot adequately protect their vulnerable residents.

In some localities, the registration system militates against innovation or further development of the type of residential provision desired by many families.

From 2,000 responses so far received by Rescare, in a continuing survey to establish family wishes, the majority select a residential or village community that is outward- looking and associated with the general community as a preferred provision for their handicapped relative.

The few existing villages have long or closed waiting lists. They provide a demonstrably enjoyable lifestyle for their residents. Development of more villages - for example, by evolution on some existing hospital sites - would be in accord with what is acceptable to government.

Such development would please families all over the country, would undoubtedly reduce the cost to the public purse, would provide many people with a mental handicap with a fulfilling lifestyle, and through family and local community involvement should reduce the present high risk of abuse associated with isolated homes.

Yours faithfully,

RUTH FORECAST

Administrator

MAURICE BROOK

Hon Vice Chairman

Rescare

Stockport

Cheshire

21 September

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