A FATHER has questioned Kirklees Council’s silence over a decision to axe funding for Mencap as a day care provider for people with disabilities.
David Mills Daniel says he and wife Jenny were not consulted before Kirklees Council transferred responsibility for the care of his son from Mencap to a new provider.
And he says it will cause unnecessary disruption for those who depend of the service – the people with disabilities themselves and their carers.
His son Edmund, 33, has Down’s Syndrome and severe learning difficulties. He has attended the Waverley Hall centre, Waverley Road, for five years.
But the future is unclear. Mencap owns the hall and it’s not known where the new council-funded day care centre will be or how the service will be provided.
Dr Mills Daniel, of Gledholt, said: “This decision, which is potentially very disruptive to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our local community, and which creates uncertainty about the future of provision, has been taken without any attempt to consult the people most affected: those with learning disabilities and their carers.”
He said the decision came “out of the blue”, adding: “We knew nothing about the decision, no-one came to ask what we thought and we still know very little about what the council’s intention is.”
Edmund had previously attended Longley School and Dewsbury College but went to Waverley Hall five years ago, attending four days a week.
He has flourished at the centre, which organises trips, practical classes such as photography and IT and provides a diverse programme with other people like him.
Kirklees Council says they are required to tender out social care contracts by European law.
A spokesman added: “To comply with this, we recently re-tendered five learning disability daytime activity contracts.
“The specification for these services reflect the outcomes for people with learning disabilities that are agreed by a wide range of people, including carers and people who use the services.
“Mencap, an existing provider of daytime activity services in Kirklees, were unsuccessful in their bid to retain two of their current contracts.
“These contracts have been offered to HFT, a new provider to Kirklees and a national charity providing support to people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.
“We fully appreciate that this change may concern people, but we can assure everyone affected that their care needs will continue to be met.
“We will now be working closely with existing and new providers to support the transfer of care staff, wherever possible, to make the change of provider as seamless as possible.
“As we work with providers to plan the transfer, everyone who is affected will be contacted individually. We will explain the process and offer reassurances about how the new service will meet their needs.”
But Dr Mills Daniel asks: “I accept they have a requirement to put it out to tender, but in trying to judge the best option surely they have to take into account the users and carers views?
“It seems that the council are saying ‘we hope you are satisfied because we’ve made this decision anyway’.”
The father is now urging other carers to consider taking the power into their own hands – he says that with the new direct payment method, families could choose their own care provider.
“If people do that, we can decide who we want to provide the care rather than the council deciding for us.
“There is a process to go though, so if carers get in contact with each other we can share experience of that and help each other.”
If you are affected by this decision you can email David at email@example.com or contact the Examiner on 01484 43 77 62 who will pass details on.