Inquiry to be held into Ipswich care facility where police called hundreds of times in 18 months
PUBLISHED: 07:30 24 July 2020
An inquiry is going to be held into a supported living facility in Ipswich after neighbours claimed they were suffering a “living hell” due to disturbances over the past 18 months.
Several councillors have called for urgent action along with South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, leader of the Labour group Sarah Adams, Labour spokesperson for health and adult care at Suffolk County Council Helen Armitage and Belstead Brook councillor Christopher Hudson.
The Stella Maris facility, a block of eight flats run by Swanton Care, was opened in late 2018 and a number of partners provide different elements of care for residents with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.
One man living next to the home has recorded well over 200 police attendances in the last year and a half and several other neighbours have reported verbal abuse, littering and constant noise.
Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, has confirmed an independent inquiry will be coordinated by the council and supported by all the agencies involved with Stella Maris, to determine why problems there were unreported for so long.
“We hope the inquiry will highlight lessons learnt so changes can be made to the way different agencies share information and work together,” he said.
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“Once Suffolk County Council was made aware of the extent of the problems in June we immediately worked with partners to find an urgent solution.
“For individuals living at Stella Maris, all decisions about their care have been handled with the greatest sensitivity, patience and understanding. I am pleased this difficult situation is in the process of being resolved.”
Kevin Bowman-Boyles lives next to the care facility and has called for a plan detailing what action is being taken, the timescale of the inquiry and residents of the area to be kept informed of all developments.
He has been living with the disturbances from the home for over a year now and said: “If this situation is resolved then it means we can return to pre-December 2018 when we could go out and enjoy the liberty of being in our gardens peacefully, not clearing up rubbish all the time, not being tormented by residents from the home clapping and jeering at us every day or having staff tell us there’s nothing they can do when we complain about an issue.
“However, the outcome of any inquiry needs to be made available to us because an inquiry means nothing to me until I know exactly what is happening.”
Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust who provide assessments and treatment at Stella Maris, said: “Solutions have now been found for these very vulnerable individuals to further support their behavioural needs and local residents should already be seeing an improvement in the situation.”
A spokesman for Swanton Care who run the home added: “Stella Maris flats are home to a number of local people and to our knowledge will remain so for the foreseeable future.
“We welcome an inquiry into recent incidents of anti-social behaviour outside the flats and we will cooperate fully with all regulatory authorities, including the Care Quality Commission.
“Once again, we would like to apologise to members of the local community who have experienced noise and disturbances in recent months.”
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