Bid to save Harpenden children's respite unit

PUBLISHED: 18:33 12 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

THE threat of closure to a respite care unit for children should be reconsidered and its value to the community recognised according to a town council. Harpenden Mencap s Stairways hostel in Douglas Road provides three respite beds for children as well as

THE threat of closure to a respite care unit for children should be reconsidered and its value to the community recognised according to a town council.

Harpenden Mencap's Stairways hostel in Douglas Road provides three respite beds for children as well as an outreach service.

But the respite bed service is under threat in a consultation exercise by the county council's children, schools and families department which maintains that it is no longer suitable because it is not accessible to children with physical difficulties.

The county council wants to see a hub and spoke scheme with a main centre where services will be coordinated and a residential element in five hubs across Herts.

Harpenden Town Council has lodged objections to the proposal with the county council and said it had "severe concerns" about the plan. In a letter signed by Town Mayor, Cllr Rosemary Farmer, the council warns that the closure of Stairways would not only have serious organisational and financial implications in providing outreach services but also vastly reduce the quality and availability of care in the local area.

It points out that the number of learning disabled children is vastly understated and a greater number of outreach and residential services will be needed rather than closing centres such as Stairways.

And it questions why the proposals do not seem to have addressed the issue of the crucial need for children with exceptionally high needs and nursing care to travel to the closest unit.

Describing Stairways as "a vital community facility in this area of the county", the town council also points to the fact that it is fully subscribed and well supported by the parents who use the unit for their children.


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