Ministers officially open Ralphs Close

Health Minister Edwin Poots and Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, officially open Ralphs Close. Included are, on left, Gerard Guckian, chairman, Western Health and Social Care Trust, and Ian Kirkpatrick, chairperson, Trinity Housing Association. [30-03-12 SML 50]
Health Minister Edwin Poots and Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, officially open Ralphs Close. Included are, on left, Gerard Guckian, chairman, Western Health and Social Care Trust, and Ian Kirkpatrick, chairperson, Trinity Housing Association. [30-03-12 SML 50]

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and Health Minister Edwin Poots have officially opened a new residential unit in Derry for adults with a learning disability.

The £3.3 million Ralphs Close scheme provides purpose built accommodation for 16 Western Trust patients who previously lived in Mourne House, Stradreagh Hospital. The closure of Mourne House brought an end to the many years of care of people with a learning disability within Stradreagh Hospital.

The award-winning facility comprises four purpose built bungalows each accommodating four residents. Each of the 16 residents has their own individual bedroom with ensuite bathroom linked to communal kitchen, dining room and sitting room facilities.

Minister McCausland said: “This is a magnificent scheme, a world away from the institutional setting that went before. Schemes like this make a huge difference to the daily lives of some of our most vulnerable people. They are a continuation of many years of inter-departmental working to shift away from long stay hospital accommodation to supported living in the community. Ralphs Close provides opportunities for residents to have a more independent lifestyle while still benefitting from continual care and support of dedicated staff.”

Minister Poots added: “This facility is an excellent example of what can be achieved when we work together for the good of our clients. In this case the Western Trust, Trinity Housing Association and the two Departments have combined their resources to allow these residents to live in beautiful surroundings which they can now call their own home.”

He added: “Facilities such as these at Ralphs Close which ensure that clients are at the forefront in the design and developments of the service are very much in keeping with my Department’s policies. I congratulate all involved in what they have achieved here and wish all of them every success for the future.”

Chairman of the Western Trust Gerard Guckian said: “The opening of Ralphs Close has ensured that the Western Trust achieved its target in the resettlement of residents from long stay learning disability hospitals. More importantly it provides 16 adults with a place they can now call their own home; a home in a beautiful secure setting enhancing many aspects of their lives.

“Western Trust staff, in collaboration with Trinity staff, will work to support the individual needs of each resident and ensure their integration into community life. This is a real success story for resettlement in the West and the Trust is delighted with the opportunities it now provides in this area.”

Trinity Housing Association Chairperson Ian Kirkpatrick said: Ralphs Close will offer quality and modern residential care. I offer my best wishes to the present and future residents and hope they have many happy days in this tremendous new facility.”

To date the Ralphs Close scheme has had success on two fronts - it was successful in winning the NI Housing Council’s Jim Speers Award in October 2011 and also won the Collaborative Working Award at the Chartered Institute of Housing Awards in February.