CARERS of people with severe disabilities in Huddersfield have been dealt a devastating blow.
Carers who send their grown-up children to a respite bungalow at Carr Street in Marsh have hit out after being told that the centre – which gives the carers a well-earned rest – could close by Christmas.
The news came after South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust, which runs the site, reviewed respite services across its area and found the building was no longer fit for purpose.
Now the whole system of respite care in Huddersfield could change as the trust looks to revamp its specialist health services and direct those with more social needs to Kirklees Council’s social services.
One mother – who did not want to be named – said she would fight the closure.
She added: “It is such a valuable service. We could not do without it.
“It would drive us bonkers if we didn’t get a break, because caring is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It is worse than caring for a baby, because they don’t grow up. We’re up in the night with them doing toilet trips and we have to wash, dress and feed them. We have to do every single thing for them.
“It’s hard work and we need this bungalow to give us parents a break.”
Another parent, whose son regularly goes to the bungalow, said: “We heard there were no plans to alter the respite care we have in Carr Street.
“But we were then told it could close at Christmas.
“It will be a terrible blow. People have sent their children there for the past 18 years to get some respite and the staff are wonderful.
“If we have to send them elsewhere it will be a real blow to them. It is very well-used and certainly we have benefited as a family.
“A lot of the parents are very upset that the unit is going to close.’’
The bungalow cares for adults over 19 with severe learning disabilities, offering expert care to allow parents a well-earned rest.
Families are assessed and offered a number of respite days a year. About 15 families a year use the service.
Now they could be offered the use of facilities elsewhere in Kirklees as part of the changes.
Tim Breedon, the trust’s assistant director of learning disability services, said the review of learning disability services had been carried out with Kirklees Council and Kirklees Primary Care Trust.
But a Kirklees spokesman said the council had played no part in the review and that the decision had been made by the mental health trust.
Mr Breedon added: “Our trust needs to develop our services as specialist health services, providing the most modern and effective health services we can, with the money that is available to us.
“Across the country, mainstream learning disability services sit with social services rather than the NHS.
“This means that services not core to health have to be reviewed. For us, that includes the respite care services provided at Carr Street.
“The review will result in a change to the service received by current service users and carers.
“All the organisations are keen to ensure continuity of service for service users and carers and that change is managed in a sensitive and transparent way.
“We do appreciate that change can be very unsettling for people and all agencies involved recognise this.
“We have met on a regular basis with individuals and carer groups to discuss the issues relating to Carr Street and we are committed to ensuring this dialogue continues.
“We would urge any carers or individuals with concerns to contact us so we can discuss their personal circumstances in detail.”
Mr Breedon said service users and their carers using the Carr Street bungalow had been assessed to identify their care needs.
He added: “Those people who have been identified as having continuing health needs will be offered alternative provision by the trust, funded by Kirklees PCT.
“Kirklees Council will identify alternative placements for people with social care needs. This will involve the use of other facilities, but the details are not yet complete.”