Greater investment in community services prompts decision to close Exeter residential unit

Posted on 23rd November, 2006

Devon County Council has announced that it will not be renewing a contract to provide services at a residential rehabilitation and recovery unit in Heavitree, Exeter. The Adult and Community Services Directorate has confirmed that the contract to provide a service at Denis Taylor House will not be renewed in March 2007.  The unit provides residential nursing care for up to ten adults, from the Exeter, East and Mid Devon area, with complex and enduring mental health needs. Funding for rehabilitation and recovery services in the area will continue, however, with resources being redirected into the development of enhanced community based care, support and housing. Commenting on the decision, Director of Adult and Community Services, David Johnstone, said:  “Health and social care providers and commissioners across the county are reviewing the way in which care and treatment is delivered to people with complex and enduring mental health needs.  In particular, we are looking to move away from an over-reliance on residential care - except where it is absolutely necessary - towards greater investment and development of community based support. “It is important to stress that the decision isn’t about reducing expenditure on services.  Resources will be redirected into enhanced community services that will actively support the recovery of people as they make their journey back towards living fulfilling, independent lives.
“Although some people may be understandably disappointed about our decision, we are hopeful that many others will share our view that this is a very positive step forwards for local rehabilitation and recovery services for people with complex mental health needs.” Iain Tulley, Chief Executive of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, added: “The Council’s decision is entirely in line with the county’s strategy for mental health and wellbeing. We are already in the process of having a close look at our rehabilitation and recovery services and the decision provides us with a timely opportunity to shift resources away from ‘bed based’ residential settings into enhanced community services and housing alternatives that promote recovery and social inclusion far more effectively. “Working with our local health and social care partners over the coming months, we will be planning the detail of how and where we will enhance services and we will be encouraging service users, carers and staff to be involved in this process.  We are already exploring a number of opportunities and hope to be making an announcement soon about some brand new supported accommodation in Exeter.” “The Council has made it very clear that the termination of the contract has nothing at all to do with the quality of service that has been provided at Denis Taylor House and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our team of staff at the unit for all of their hard work and commitment.  We will be working very closely with them, and the families and carers concerned, to ensure that suitable alternative arrangements are made for the current residents of the unit.”
The service at Denis Taylor House is NHS funded, having been commissioned by Exeter Primary Care Trust (PCT) on behalf the NHS in Exeter, East and Mid Devon.  It is contracted by Devon County Council to Devon Community Housing Society (DCHS), a not-for-profit friendly society. There will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the decision to close Denis Taylor House.  There are 16.5 staff at the unit, all of whom are
sub-contracted to DCHS but employed by Devon Partnership NHS Trust.  Work is already under way to explore opportunities to redeploy these staff within the Trust or local health and social care network.