There are about 80 adults in Derby with complex learning and/or physical disabilities whose parent/carers need respite care support ( short breaks). Derby City Council has a statutory responsibility to fund this support.
There are currently 2 ways in which that respite care is supported:
- Bonsall View – a Derby City Council residential property
- Carer arranges their own provision which is paid by the Council through a system of “direct payments”
Of the 80 people, the split between the 2 routes is approximately 50:50.
Bonsall View closed at the beginning of lockdown in March with still no plan as to when it will re-open….with parent/carers left in the dark!
This has been a very difficult time for parent/carers who used this facility.
Mrs D from Derby,
“Generally I would say this has impacted me mentally and physically,The first few weeks were extremely hard and challenging for my son and I, it felt like a rug had been pulled from underneath us, at times I felt like I was at breaking point, despite the fact that I am now receiving a reduced day support service, without the respite service times are extremely challenging”.
Mr W from Mickleover
“I understand the last few months have been different for everyone, however being a parent of a disabled adult has virtually made things impossible, the respite provision at Bonsall View was a life saver for every parent I know who have a disability in the family. It gave us a light at the end ,at times, of a very, very dark tunnel, when you are used to receiving respite and it is suddenly taken away, there seems no time to re-charge my batteries”.
A policy was declared 2 years ago that Bonsall View would close permanently; since then no plans have been shared with parent/carers.
Why is Bonsall View still closed when many other places have opened?
The Council’s similar provision for children, The Light House, is already open – it has overcome the Covid-19 issues and responded accordingly.
A letter sent to parent/carers on 21st July 2020, by Sharon Green ( Head of Direct Services – People Services) explained the “problems”:
- How to check for signs of virus before entering the building
- How to limit where people can go in the building to ensure appropriate distancing
- How to make advanced bookings
- How staff will need to wear Personal Protective Equipment and hand washing.
None of these sound insurmountable and have been addressed in many other settings. The only visibility that Ms Green could give of the re-opening was ” we do not think Bonsall will open before September”. This uncertainty is making a difficult situation, unbearable for parent/carers:
Mrs D from Derby
“Not knowing when respite would start is extremely hard, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, just very ,very hard to deal with”.
Mrs H from Derby
“The worst part of this from my perspective is the lack of clarity/information from the council, everything seems to be linking to the covid situation, which does not explain why other providers are open for adult respite provision”.
Mr W from Mickleover
“all of the uncertainty regarding what is going to happen to Bonsall and when, is very frustrating for parents with Special Educational Needs young adults, we feel even more in the dark now than ever before, lack of clarification from DCC plays a major factor in the way we are feeling, it is simply not good enough for my daughters social worker to say I will inform you when Bonsall is re opening! We would like dates, potential new criteria if and when it re opens, we have received no respite since March 2020, my daughters entitlement as detailed in her support plan is 48 nights per year!! As I understand it is a statutory requirement under the 2014 Care Act for my daughter to receive what she is entitled to, not really knowing anymore than we did in March is just not good enough”.
Last week’s Cabinet paper was an interesting development
A paper was presented to the Council Cabinet on the 5th August 2020 “Overnight Short Breaks / Respite for Adults” which made one cursory reference to Bonsall View.
“Currently, the Council has a small in-house service which cannot support the volume of complex customers who require support (Bonsall View); therefore there is a need to commission services from the external Provider market.”
It is certainly a true statement, however 50% of the people who require short breaks have already made the choice to arrange their own support. Not re-opening Bonsall View just makes the problem worse.
The paper sought authorisation to set up a flexible purchasing arrangement for providers of short-break services; this would be for 10 years and a value of £500k per year. This won’t be in place before January 2021 at the earliest. Certainly a positive move for the longer term – but how does this help those parent/carers deprived of respite at Bonsall View, now!?
When the Adult Day Centres were proposed for closure, the communications and support to find alternatives was very well managed. The poor communication over the re-opening of Bonsall View is incompetent.
We know that the plan was to close Bonsall View – the Council have dithered in its implementation.
In the Cabinet paper, the reference to a contract for £500k per annum covers all respite care provision, including Bonsall View. The Council will need the numbers of people and value to make it attractive to prospective service providers. This proposal feels very much like the exit strategy from Bonsall View – without actually saying it. Unfortunately the Councillors involved in the Scrutiny process didn’t pick up on this and challenge the context of the report.
A source confirms that Ms Green, who is the author of the letter to the parent/carers on Bonsall View was unaware of the contents of the Cabinet paper until after the meeting.
So, why not tell the parent/carers of the people using Bonsall View? Be open and transparent. Keep them informed so they can plan and be an active part of that transition.
Why are they being kept in the dark?