Letter: The burden of change in community care

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The Independent Online
Sir: We were delighted to read Margaret Mervis's article on care in the community ('Compulsion can be caring too' 12 August). Many carers have been longing to hear from someone of influence what they have always known themselves: that there are limits on how far their charges can be safely released from compulsory restraint.

However, Ms Mervis does not go far enough. While it is natural for debate to centre on the release of the mentally ill into the community, where they can harm members of the public, similar considerations can apply also to the mentally handicapped (those with 'learning disabilities'), who can - if given more freedom than they can manage - do great harm to themselves. They may, for instance, make choices that lead to their becoming homeless, or behave anti-socially at times and in places that generate hostility, or even violence, from others.

Like Ms Mervis, all carers of our acquaintance welcome the principles of care in the community, but most if not all are convinced that those principles have been applied more widely than is sensible, and carried too far even for appropriate cases.

Yours sincerely,





12 August