Nascot Lawn: Hertfordshire County Council apply to extend Rickmansworth short breaks centre
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
With the imminent closure of Nascot Lawn respite centre, attention has now turned to providing suitable facilities its disabled attendees can visit.
Herts County Council (HCC) has applied to build a single-storey, two-bedroom extension at West Hyde Short Breaks Centre near Rickmansworth.
This is after Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) decided to defund Nascot Lawn, which provided short breaks to children with disabilities and special needs.
HVCCG instead decided to co-fund short breaks with HCC and East and North Herts CCG, with each NHS CCG paying £100k to the council in what is called a Section 75 agreement.
A HVCCG spokesperson said: “The majority of children who use the respite service are currently in the process of transitioning to new overnight short break facilities or other short break options.
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“Transition meetings continue with all partners to oversee this process and to ensure planning for each child remains closely and carefully managed. Future provision has been identified for the vast majority of families with a number of transition plans already successfully completed.”
HVCCG’s decision to close Nascot Lawn has been opposed by the Save NHS Nascot Lawn group, made up of parents whose children have used the centre.
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The group’s coordinator Nikki Lancaster said of the transfer to West Hyde: “It’s gone quite well. The only issue I have heard of are the staff are not trained to change gastrostomy buttons, which parents do on a daily basis.
“As a parent, I would not have found it acceptable if I can do it at home and the children are having to be taken to accident and emergency [to replace the button].”
A HCC spokesperson said: “The process for gastrostomy feeding is that a tube is inserted into a button which is permanently inserted into the child’s stomach. Sufficient staff members at the West Hyde short break centre are trained to administer feeding by inserting the tube into the button.
“It would be unusual for the button itself to come out and staff are not specifically trained to replace it themselves. The protocol for an unplanned gastrostomy button replacement would be included in the individual assessment for each child.
“During the day time, the Children’s Community Nursing team or the child’s School Nurse may be able to support with an unplanned gastrostomy button replacement. Overnight, and in agreement with the families, the centre staff may take the child to hospital for the button to be replaced.
“Hertfordshire County Council regularly discusses training needs with Action for Children, the provider of the West Hyde short breaks service, to ensure the service offered at the centre is able to respond to the needs of children.”
Asked whether children will receive the same amount of short breaks as they received at Nascot Lawn before the decision was taken to defund it, a council spokesperson said: “All children who are transferring from Nascot Lawn to other overnight short break centres will receive the same allocation in their new settings, but this will not immediately be the case for all families.
“For some families we will gradually build up their allocations over a period of time. Allocations are discussed individually with each family.”
Last week, there was a meeting of county councillors where council officers and HVCCG officers provided an update on the Section 75 agreement.
Nikki Lancaster, who attended the meeting, said she was disappointed when a CCG officer referred to the short breaks as ‘institutionalised short breaks’.
A HVCCG spokesperson said: “We apologise for any unintentional offence caused.
“Our officer was talking about making respite care more personalised in the future and in the course of the conversation may not have chosen his words very wisely.
“It is our firmly-held view the work we have done to assess and support the children and families demonstrates our commitment and shows our conduct as an organisation to be professional and driven by the desire to do the right thing by all children and families who need respite care, and in the context of a very difficult financial situation.”
The work on extending West Hyde is scheduled to be completed by March, but Nascot Lawn’s funding will only last until November 22.