No agreement reached for respite care in St Albans after closure of Nascot Lawn

The outside of Nascot Lawn respite centre in Watford. Photo: Danny Loo.

The outside of Nascot Lawn respite centre in Watford. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

Health and council bosses have still not reached an agreement on the future of short breaks for children with complex needs in St Albans following the closure of Nascot Lawn.

Nascot Lawn, in Watford, offered respite care for children with complex needs from across the county, but closed down in November. Following its closure, the county’s two clinical commissioning groups (CCG) indicated they would financially support alternative provision through the county council.

However the Section 75 agreement, in which each CCG was expected to commit £100,000 towards the provision of overnight short breaks, has not been agreed.

Herts county council has told the CCGs they cannot sign the current draft of the Section 75 document, because a clause in the draft gives the CCGs the right to end the agreement after two years, subject to a 12-month notice period. They are now waiting for an amended document which says the agreement can only be brought to an end ‘by mutual consent’.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s impact of scrutiny committee, operations director for specialist services Marion Ingram said the amendment had been verbally agreed and would hopefully be signed off at the next full council meeting on Tuesday, March 26.

She said: “Unfortunately we are not there yet. We don’t yet have a signed document. We have got an agreement on everything except an exit clause in the Section 75.”

The scrutiny committee is meeting with parents on a regular basis in response to concerns about the lack of trust and confidence of parents and carers following the closure of the respite service.

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Ms Ingram said: “I am confident we are working towards building that trust.

“I am confident that a number of Nascot Lawn parents do trust us and do feel that the local authority is there to help.”

The committee heard that almost all of the children who previously received respite care at Nascot Lawn are receiving their full allocation from other services. However some are having briefer visits to the respite centres and one is transitioning to adult services.

Ms Ingram said the council are working with each family individually and some are doing it at a “different pace”.