June 1, 2011
Last week GDA members watched from the gallery, or tuned in from home, for a long, intense and acrimonious States debate on proposals to develop Extra Care Housing on the site of the Longue Rue and Maison Maritaine residential homes. The proposition to throw out the plans until more work had been done on the funding model was eventually defeated by 30 votes to 15, after over six hours of robust exchanges.
The success of the proposals was important to disabled islanders for two reasons:
1. The new buildings will be fully accessible – the current buildings have narrow doorways and small toilets with insufficient space for carers.
2. Longue Rue will include 15 flats for younger disabled people. Specialist housing of this type is in very short supply in Guernsey. Places like Rosaire Court are only for the over-55s whereas someone can develop MS or lose their sight much younger than that. Younger disabled people can end up with no choice but to live in an older people’s residential home, which is not age-appropriate and restricts their independence.
Initially the younger people’s flats will be reserved for people with a learning disability who are already living in HSSD housing. However, future developments will be open to all disabled people, whether their impairment is physical, sensory or psychological.
The next step is for Treasury Minister, Charles Parkinson, to bring the warring Housing, HSSD and SSD departments together in a working party to develop the full business case for the proposals. Then the plans have to go to Environment for planning permission.
The buildings won’t be declared officially open for at least three years but, nevertheless, this is an important advance in social care for Guernsey.