LETTER:Community care is best

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The Independent Online
From Dr Eric Emerson and Mr Chris Hatton

Sir: The reports by Rosie Waterhouse ("Mencap `snubs families over residential care' " and "Thousands press for safe `village' on hospital site", 27 March) fail to distinguish between fact and propaganda. Since 1980, some 45 scientific studies have been carried out in the UK alone to examine the quality of life of over 2,000 people with severe learning disabilities in hospitals and in the type of small community-based homes advocated by Mencap.

Having been commissioned by the Department of Health to provide an independent review of this evidence, we concluded that:

(1) people with learning disabilities, including those with more severe disabilities and additional needs, can be supported in the community in such a way as to significantly improve their quality of life; and

(2) overall, smaller community-based residential services offer a better quality of life than either mental handicap hospitals, medium-size hostels or specialist developments on hospital sites. (Moving Out, HMSO, 1994)

There is no evidence to suggest that "village communities", or the type of on-site developments proposed for Tilworth Grange, offer a quality of life which is equal to that provided in small community-based homes.

Yours sincerely,

ERIC EMERSON

Deputy Director

CHRIS HATTON

Research Fellow

Hester Adrian Research Centre

University of Manchester

Manchester

27 March

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