St Albans parents create petition against closure of respite services for adults with disabilities

PUBLISHED: 12:47 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:48 16 December 2019

Parents are campaigning against the closure of Hixberry Lane respite centre in St Albans. Picture: Sharon Shepheard

Parents are campaigning against the closure of Hixberry Lane respite centre in St Albans. Picture: Sharon Shepheard

Archant

Parents of adults with learning disabilities in St Albans have started a petition against the closure of respite services across the county.

Jackie Wilks, Andrew Wilks and Sharon Shepheard are campaigning against the closure of respite care services in Hertfordshire. Picture: ArchantJackie Wilks, Andrew Wilks and Sharon Shepheard are campaigning against the closure of respite care services in Hertfordshire. Picture: Archant

Herts county council is undergoing a consultation process on whether to close three respite centres offering 'short breaks' to adults with disabilities - Hixberry Lane in St Albans, Apton Road in Bishops Stortford and Tewin Road in Hemel Hempstead.

Jackie Wilks, whose 26-year-old daughter Nicole has learning disabilities, created the petition calling for the council to take a different approach when liaising with families.

The council said the services were being closed because they were under-used, but the petition asks for adult care services to examine the reasons for under-use and learn from families and people with learning disabilities about the options they would like to see in the future.

The petition states: "We believe that this approach will ensure best value and will also enable a true co-design and co-production of personalised and flexible options for overnight respite care."

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An initial consultation closed on November 7, which called for Isabel Court in Hoddesdon to be closed instead of the Bishops Stortford centre, and the second consultation is open until January 21.

Jackie created the petition alongside her husband Andrew and fellow parent Sharon Shepheard, who also has a 26-year-old daughter with learning disabilities. Both Nicole and Sharon's daughter Katie use respite services at Hixberry Lane.

She said: "We consider that both consultations are based on some questionable assumptions and methodology: that the current under-usage is evidence that the present services are no longer required and reflect true demand, and that closing popular respite facilities before the new strategy is fully developed and consulted upon is an appropriate methodology.

"This second consultation does not address the major flaws in the work so far."

The council estimated that the initial plans to close the three centres would save £900,000 a year, which they said they could better spend elsewhere.

To read more details and sign the petition go to https://democracy.hertfordshire.gov.uk/ and click on 'petitions'.

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