Brain injury unit 'not like Broadmoor'

THE director of a rehabilitation unit for people with brain injuries has reassured villagers it is not becoming “a Broadmoor psychiatric hospital” after anonymous flyers were given out to residents.

Annie Davidson

THE director of a rehabilitation unit for people with brain injuries has reassured villagers it is not becoming “a Broadmoor psychiatric hospital” after anonymous flyers were given out to residents.

Elm Park rehabilitation unit in Ardleigh, near Colchester, cares for people who have suffered brain trauma and has recently applied to Tendring District Council to expand with a new 24-bed unit.

The Station Road site must comply with mental health regulations which means a three metre high security fence is already in place around the existing hospital and a similar one would be erected around the proposed new unit.

But Christina Walsh, regional director for Partnerships in Care which runs Elm Park, said she feared this was what had led to an unsigned flyer being given out in and around Ardleigh.

The document calls on residents to object about the application to Tendring District Council, stating that the home would “house people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 including convicted criminals and those on remand”.

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It adds: “You must voice your objections immediately to Tendring District Council planning department, otherwise it will be passed and you and your children will be sharing your village with a number of questionable people.

“This is a threat to our schools, our children and our way of life, not forgetting the housing market.”

Mrs Walsh said: “At Ardleigh we care for people who have suffered a brain trauma, a road traffic accident is the most common but it could be that someone has had a heart attack and their brain has been starved of oxygen.

“They have led a normal life until they suffer the trauma and we work to get them back on track and to be the best they can be.

“We have submitted an application for a 24-bed unit to do exactly the same as what we do at the moment for the same client group that we already care for.

“We are a low secure unit - we have to comply with mental health regulations simply because there aren't any separate ones for brain injured clients.

“The fence would be exactly the same as the one we have there at the moment and is for the patients' safety and security for when they are outside in the garden area.”

Commenting on the flyer, Mrs Walsh said: “It is very sad.

“I think it comes from ignorance and a lack of knowledge - this is not some Broadmoor psychiatric hospital but because of the way the system works we have to meet regulations under mental health and I think this is where some of the confusion comes in.

“We have never had problems with the Ardleigh neighbours and we encourage people to come and visit the unit and see what we are about.

“Brain injury can happen to anybody and there but for the grace of God go I, so this is very sad.”

Partnerships in Care also runs a hospital for people with learning disabilities in Tendring village.

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