Orchard Hill residents due to move out by February 2010

The remaining eighteen residents of Orchard Hill – site of England’s last long-stay hospital for people with learning disabilities -are due to move into new supported living arrangements by next February.

Orchard Hill, in Sutton, Surrey, officially closed on 30 April this year, but the 18 are continuing to live on the site in bungalows leased to a housing association. Though, unlike previously, they all have their own tenancy agreements, Sutton Council described the bungalows as “outdated”.

Ten of the residents are due to move into flats in a new scheme – Ashcombe House – in October, while the other eight will move into the new Homeland Drive scheme next February.

Department of Health funding

The council, which is responsible for the care of the 18 residents, Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust, which ran Orchard Hill and owns the site, announced last week they had secured funding from the Department of Health to rehouse the remaining residents.

Remaining funding will come from the sale of Orchard Hill by the PCT and from the two housing associations running the new schemes.

Sutton Council said that the schemes would help tenants play a much fuller part in society than they had previously been able to do.

‘Ambitious’ supported living plan

Executive member for adult social services Colin Stears said that the authority had developed an “exciting and ambitious” supported living plan for people with profound learning disabilities.

He added: “Sutton Council and the Sutton and Merton PCT have demonstrated excellent partnership working on Orchard Hill and have developed a supported living model that has the latest in designer build and assistive technology underpinned by high quality care providers.”

Long-stays originally due to close in 2010

Long-stay hospitals were supposed to have all been closed by April 2004 following publication of the Valuing People white paper in 2001. The target was then extended to March 2006.

Orchard Hill was finally ordered to close after a Healthcare Commission report in January 2007 found evidence of institutional abuse. It ruled that the regime encouraged a culture of dependency and some residents were deprived of their privacy and dignity by being forced to share rooms.

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Last long-stay hospital will transfer residents into apartments

Learning disabilities: Orchard Hill hospital set to close

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