Former unit linked to abuse to be sold to help care leavers

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A FORMER respite care facility where children and young people with complex needs were allegedly abused is due to go on sale next month, with the proceeds going to create a fund ‘dedicated to improving outcomes’ for care-experienced Islanders.

Chief Minister Kristina Moore confirmed that the Aviemore specialist accommodation unit – which is now vacant – was due to go on the market next month, with nearby properties having gone on sale for millions of pounds.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry heard in 2017 that staff at Aviemore had sexually assaulted young disabled Islanders, though no charges were ever brought, while an independent review that year found that staff were more concerned for their own safety than the needs of their clients.

Deputy Moore was responding to a written question submitted by Deputy Rob Ward, relating to her ministerial delivery plan, which includes bringing forward ‘a lasting solution’ for the Haut de la Garenne site and nearby Aviemore among its priorities.

One of the recommendations made by the inquiry was for Haut de la Garenne – where abuse took place – to be knocked down.

Deputy Moore said that following the inquiry a public consultation was carried out, which found ‘significant support’ for the building to remain, as almost 94% of respondents ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the inquiry’s recommendation. Responses to the consultation also demonstrated support for the site to continue to be used for outdoor activities, catering, camping and hostel accommodation, she said.

The Chief Minister added: ‘More broadly, the plan for the Aviemore site, which is adjacent to Haut de la Garenne, remains its sale when it becomes vacant in March 2023, with the proceeds forming a fund which will be dedicated to improving outcomes for care-experienced Islanders.’

A report by then Children’s Minister Sam Mézec outlining plans for a small housing development on the Aviemore section of the site was published in 2020, with a legacy fund for care-leavers proposed.

Previously, Aviemore was a five-unit specialist accommodation facility operated by the special needs service neighbouring Haut de la Garenne in St Martin. It was used to house individuals ‘with learning disabilities who have the most complex needs and are in crisis’.

However, the facility experienced a spate of problems. In 2019, it was issued with three orders by the Health and Safety Inspectorate relating to a substantial lack of written policy or procedure in protecting employees from ‘violent or aggressive incidents’ from clients.

It was finally acknowledged in the 2021 Government Plan that the facility itself was proving a barrier against providing ‘appropriate and safe care, as well as providing a safe working environment for the staff’.

As a result, it was decided in 2021 that part of the over-65s mental-health facility, Rosewood House, would be converted to replace Aviemore. Moreover, the government purchased a £995,000 St Saviour bungalow to house an Aviemore patient with learning disabilities as part of a wider restructuring of its specialist care facilities.

Given its size, proximity to the coast and its scenic views, the property is likely to generate a high asking price. One seven-bedroom property nearby is currently on the market for £7,500,000.

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