Ravenswood Village to be taken over by non-Jewish healthcare provider

Move follows review by Norwood into future of Berkshire village caring for those with complex learning needs. Families had campaigned against closure


Norwood’s Ravenswood Village in Berkshire for those with complex learning needs and autism is set to be taken over by a non-Jewish care provider.

The charity’s trustees announced on Wednesday that provisional agreement had been agreed with the Salutem Healthcare Group, which it believed had “the appropriate skills, knowledge, values and expertise to operate services at Ravenswood”.

It is 15 months since Norwood launched a consultation process on Ravenswood’s future, saying the village represented a “dated model of care” and was incurring “significant and increasing operating losses”. All options were on the table, including closure.

It sparked an outcry from residents’ families, who were “totally distraught” at the possibility of their loved ones having to be moved from familiar surroundings and carers. Many residents have lived the majority of their life in the village.

Norwood trustees’ chair Neville Kahn said that having “taken into account the views of residents, their families and staff — and having completed a process of initial due diligence on Salutem — the board of trustees collectively felt that pursuing this option was in the best interests of Ravenswood’s residents and staff”.

Subject to further detailed negotiations, he envisioned that Ravenswood’s operations would transfer to Salutem within the next 12 months, including existing staff.

Maintaining a Jewish environment for the 95 residents had been a key consideration in selecting a new provider and Norwood would have an ongoing advisory role in its continued delivery.

More than two dozen care organisations had been considered to take charge at Ravenswood, which Norwood has run since 1996. Following exploratory discussions, the list was whittled down to seven and then a final two.

Norwood noted how Salutem had completed a similar transfer of operations from disability charity Scope and had confidence that it could ensure continuity of care at the village.

From the outset of the consultation process, the Ravenswood Families Association has campaigned tirelessly for the home’s retention. Its chair, Tracy Murrell, believes that without its efforts, there might well have been a different outcome.

For New North London Synagogue member Bette Rabie, 84, whose son Max, 53, has been at Ravenswood for over 35 years, there was relief “that someone wants to take over.

“Families were passionate about keeping their children, sisters and brothers at Ravenswood. We are committed to Ravenswood for our son — for him it is the best type of care.

“Max is autistic and any kind of change is very disturbing. He has said thousands of times that he wants to be at Ravenswood forever.”

However, news of the agreement with Salutem was still fresh and she wanted to find out its vision for Ravenswood.

Mrs Rabie said that facilities needed improving and activities increased.

While acknowledging that the pandemic had imposed limitations on life at the village, she felt that Norwood’s commitment had waned over the past decade. “They didn’t see the wonderful benefits it offers.”

Salutem were approached for comment.

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