The £4.5m Mariner Care service, which was officially launched on Tuesday, December 9, has been created to meet a national requirement for people with learning disabilities and autism to move from inappropriate and unsuitable environments – including hospitals – and out of homes not considered fit for purpose.
Moving into one of the Mariner homes will allow service users to access specialist community-based services.
The official launch saw a ribbon being cut by Hartlepool District Council chief executive Dave Stubbs – who described the facilities as ‘world class’ – and local Councillor Robbie Payne. The council has been heavily involved in supporting the development.
Built in the residential Burbank area of Hartlepool, four specially designed bungalows will provide therapeutic care for up to 12 vulnerable adults.
The complex is the first to be built by Mariner Care, which says it is setting new standards in learning disability care.
The Mariner Care homes are seen as an answer to concerns outlined last month in an NHS England report by Sir Stephen Bubb which criticised the ‘serious shortcomings’ of hospital-based care for people with learning disabilities and autism, stating that people were being kept in institutions far from home for too long.
People living in the purpose-built bungalows will receive therapeutic care and round-the-clock person-centred support from staff who have all been specially trained for the job.
Mariner Care has recruited a team of experienced support workers, who have since received a month of intensive bespoke training, and will work within guidelines of the Institute of Applied Behaviour Analysis (IABA) and PROACT-SCIPr-UK.
Mariner chief executive Chris Pooley emphasised that the service aims to set a national standard for non-hospital innovative community-based services for people with learning disabilities and autism.
“Mariner Care is both part of a revolutionary change desperately required in learning disability and autism care and an answer to deep national concerns about the treatment of vulnerable people in England,” said Chris.
“We will be doing much more than following national standards, we will be setting them.”
International learning disabilities expert, Professor Barry Carpenter OBE, who is a healthcare adviser to Mariner Care, commented: “Mariner Care has created a service which dignifies the lived experience of the person with learning disabilities.
“It is state-of-the-art provision that will enhance and enrich the quality of life of those service users who live there.”
Dave Stubbs said: “The facility, having looked round it, is actually world class, and the service it will provide at the start of what is going to be a long relationship with Mariner Care is really worthwhile for the town.”
The service is set to welcome its first residents, from the Hartlepool area, in the New Year. Initially 12 residents will move into the bungalows with accommodation for a further 12 residents to be built in 2015.
There have been urgent calls for improved national services for vulnerable people with learning disabilities and autism since the Winterbourne View hospital scandal of 2011.
Care minister Norman Lamb emphasised last month that it is ‘unacceptable’ for people with learning disabilities and autism to be left in institutions if they can live in the community.