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Cambridge Liberal Democrats

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Julian Huppert MP

Charity faces tough decisions for the future MP told

September 26, 2008 1:13 PM

David Howarth meets some of the residents at one of the Mencap homes in MiltonA leading Cambridge mental health charity has told the city's MP that tougher legislation could make some of their residential homes unworkable in the future.

Mencap told David Howarth that it needs to install lifts into its houses to cater for the needs of ageing residents.

But it is impossible to make the changes to homes in Milton, which were built almost 25 years ago, and stair lifts are unacceptable, the charity said.

Ruth Pitcher, Cambridge Mencap Community Housing Manager, said: "Mencap cares for people for the whole of their lives. Many of the residents moved into the houses 20 years ago.

"But looking at the properties long term, they will not be able to meet people's physical needs because we cannot put lifts in and the Commission for Social Care will not allow stair lifts because of the trip hazard."

The learning disabilities charity provides 45 places in the city, including four respite beds used by 40 families for short-term care.

But Ruth added that there are probably hundreds of residents in the city who could be helped by the service.

"We have an ageing population and more and more people coming into the area," she said.

"We have a constant battle for funding. Our increase has been pegged at one per cent for the last two years and we have to look at cost savings. We have to find reserves to do work that needs to be done."

Mencap's homes allow residents to live in the community and those in Milton replaced the Victorian built, Edmund House, which provided dormitory-style accommodation for 28 residents.

Mr Howarth said: "Mencap is running an excellent service and it is clear to see that the residents are happy and benefit from living amongst the community rather than isolated in the old style residential homes.

"But it is also clear that so many more people could benefit from the charity's work if the funding were made available."