Rules lead to closure of home for blind people

14 July 2010

by Ed Thornton

AN ANGLICAN charity is to close a care home for visually impaired elderly people owing to fears that the building is not suitable.

The St Raphael’s Care Home in St Albans, which is run by St John’s Guild, will close on 30 September. The charity has run the home, which houses 24 residents in a large Victorian three-storey building, since 1932.

In a statement, the St John’s Guild said that, despite the home’s re­ceiving a three-star rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), it was becoming increasingly difficult to comply with the Commission’s standards, as well as building re­quirements and other legislation. It said it would continue its work of meeting the spiritual needs of people who are blind, deaf blind, and partially sighted.

The chief officer of St John’s Guild, Richard McEwan, told the Church Times: “Our old Victorian building does not lend itself to caring for partially sighted and blind people. It has been a criticism for a number of years that the building has three floors.”

A spokesperson for the CQC said: “The fact that the home had three storeys is not something we would ‘object to’ as long as people have free and safe access around the home. It would be up to the provider how they accommodate/organise this.”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council, which funds places for 11 residents at St Raphael’s, said: “We will be working closely with the residents and their families to help find suitable alternative accommo­dation where we hope they will be settled and happy.”

St John’s Guild was founded in 1919 by Dorothy Light and the Revd Christian Waudby, a blind Anglican priest who was concerned at the isolation and loneliness in which blind people lived.

Last month, CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, announced that it was to close Ronachan House, a 14-bed residential rehabilitation unit in Argyll, after a substantial fall in the number of referrals.

The director of adult care ser-­vices at CrossReach, Calum Murray, said that church com­missioners would focus on community, rather than residential, rehabilitation pro­jects.

“It must be recognised that residential rehabilitation services, of the scale provided in rural areas, is both no longer required, nor the current type of provision of choice,” he said.

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