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A new purpose-built supported living complex, designed to enable people suffering with mental illness to live in the community with professional support, has opened in Sandiacre.

The development, known as Riverside Gardens, is the brainchild of consultant psychiatrist Dr. Ivan Bakelchev of Aspire Mental Healthcare, whose vision is to offer an alternative to long-term hospitalisation or repeated admission due to relapse. His first project, Chilwell House in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, established to provide a residential recovery and rehabilitation service, as well as respite and crisis care, has proved extremely successful and was extended last year to accommodate the rising demand for places. The clear need for further rehabilitation and re-enablement opportunities led to the investment in Riverside Gardens at Sandiacre.

The complex, which operates similarly to a social enterprise and has neither shareholders nor any related requirement for profit, includes a unique Skills & Re-enablement Centre, which offers supervised skills training to day-patients, aimed at improving independence and self-reliance, as well as supporting those in need of enablement before returning to work after a long stay in hospital.

According to Dr. Bakelchev, Riverside Gardens – like Chilwell House – offers a win-win opportunity both for patients and for the local authority. “Therapy and support in the community is a much better option for those suffering with long-term mental illness, and it’s also a more cost-effective solution for the local authority than keeping people in hospital,” he says. “Outcomes are improved for patients, they are supported through rehabilitation back into the community and are enabled to become productive members of society, which is good for society and good for the individual’s mental health.”

The first residents to move into Riverside Gardens include former patients at Chilwell House, who have already made substantial progress towards independence.

“We are very excited about this project at Aspire,” Dr.Bakelchev concludes. “We have had excellent response from local mental healthcare professionals and we are confident that Riverside Gardens will prove as successful as Chilwell House.”

Plans are underway for further facilities across the East Midlands, including Nottingham town centre.


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