The specialist nurse-led service has been designed by ISISS, the specialist services division of Suffolk-based Kingsley Healthcare Group, to provide support for people who would benefit from living in a peaceful setting.
It fills a desperate need in Cambridgeshire and allows people to be supported closer to their families, rather than in many cases, out of the county.
Welcoming more than 50 guests to the opening, including Huntingdon Mayor Cllr Sarah Gifford, Kingsley CEO Daya Thayan said: “As soon as we came across this peaceful, rural site we knew it would be the perfect setting for our latest learning disability service to meet the needs of families in Cambridgeshire.
“The transformation of Glebe Farm into a centre of excellence has been the result of a lot of hard work and consultation involving our project management and commissioning teams working closely with professionals from the local authorities.
“I am sure you will agree that the fruit of our labour is a lovely home for the people who are going to live here and I am proud of what we have delivered for the people of Cambridgeshire.”
An opening plaque was unveiled by Chris May, operations director of ISISS, and Mark Pavis and Mark Rothero, executives from funders Santander.
Praising the quality of Glebe Farm, Mr Rothero, relationship director at Santander, said in the 20 years he had been working with Mr Thayan, and throughout the group’s relentless growth, Kingsley’s focus had always remained on quality of care.
Ahead of the formal opening, the first two residents had already arrived at their new home which has been designed around the original farmhouse, sympathetically refurbished and converted into three semi-self-contained apartments.
Two new buildings, providing a further six apartments, have been built alongside the farmhouse on the five-and-a-half acre site.
A courtyard has been developed to incorporate one of two sensory gardens and plans have been drawn up for part of the land to be transformed into a wildflower meadow, vegetable garden, orchard and family farming facility.
Planning approval has been given for the service to keep horses to establish a residents’ riding centre.
Nearly 25 staff, including six nurses, have already been recruited at Glebe Farm; an additional 20-plus support workers as well as additional RNLD & MH nurses will be needed as further residents arrive.
Mr May said: “We will be looking for exceptional individuals to fill these roles.
“Our existing four learning disability services are all rated good by the Care Quality Commission and we want to recruit people with the right character and work ethic to ensure Glebe Farm matches our very high standards.”
Mr May, who described Glebe Farm as “my baby”, said it had taken three years to turn his vision into a reality.
Their search for a suitable site had begun after the Cambridgeshire LD team had expressed an interest in a service along the lines of Decoy Farm, the first nurse-led ISISS home near Great Yarmouth.
He said: “I knew as soon as I walked on site, this was perfect for our requirements.”
Mr May and his brother Nick unveiled plaques in memory of their parents; a £500 cheque was presented to Upton Parish Council.
Cllr Gifford, who chatted with staff and guests, said: “When I was invited I did not know what to expect, but I have been blown away by the quality of the facilities here.”