South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging local families to have their say on the future of children’s respite care in a region at a series of consultation meetings being run on behalf of the local Health and Social Care partnership but has warned that their views must be listened to.
Acorn House provides respite breaks for children with learning disabilities, challenging behaviour or complex needs.
The options appraisal consultations follow the recent independent review into the service by charity Action for Children.
Their report, “Short Breaks Review – Acorn House”, which was presented to the Health and Social Care Partnerships Integrated Joint Board in September, concluded that “Acorn House short break service plays an essential role in maintaining the wellbeing of eligible families”.
The Report made a number of recommendations on how services at Acorn House could be improved and identified areas of need for families with children and young people with complex needs that are not being met, particularly in the west of the region.
The independent review was held after Colin Smyth met with NHS Dumfries and Galloway in December 2017 and urged them to put a halt to their own internal review into the service, following wide spread criticism over the lack of parent and carer involvement.
The local MSP called on the NHS to bring in an external independent adviser to carry out any review and properly involve parents.
NHS bosses took the matter to the review project board, who agreed with the MSP’s proposal and UK children’s charity Action for Children were commissioned by the Health and Social Care Partnership to look at the current arrangements for short break provisions for children and young people within Dumfries and Galloway.
Colin Smyth said: “Families who use Acorn House and staff who work there have been left in limbo for nearly three years and will be frustrated that the uncertainty over the future of services is going to continue.
“However, I would urge families and staff to make sure they have their say during these consultation meetings but it is vital they are listened to by NHS Dumfries and Galloway and the Health and Social Care Partnership.
“The report from Action for Children was very clear in its conclusion: Acorn House services are essential and should be built-on to improve provision further. Whatever the future model of care, there needs to be a clear commitment that Acorn House will remain open, and it will continue to be at centre of the short-term breaks service.
“We need to be clear. This respite care is not a luxury. It is a vital part of the health and wellbeing of the children and families who receive it.
“The local NHS need to understand that rebuilding trust with families and their own staff following the mishandling of this review at the start is vital and the only way to do that is to work with them to shape the services for the future.”
Details of the meetings:
2 March: Families, Carers and Public Consultation, 10am – 12 noon and 5pm – 7pm at Cresswell and Larchfield Community Centre, Dumfries. Staff Consultation, 1pm – 3pm, The Willows Meeting Room, The Willows, Glencaple Road, Dumfries
3 March: Families, Public and Staff Consultation, 11am-1pm, 2pm – 4pm and 5pm – 7pm, St. John’s Meeting Room, Galloway Hospital, Dalrymple Street, Stranraer
10 March: Families, Carers and Public Consultation, 10am – 12 noon and 5pm – 7pm venue Cresswell and Larchfield Community Centre, Dumfries. Staff Consultation, 1pm – 3pm, The Willows Meeting room, The Willows, Glencaple Road, Dumfries
17 March: Families, Carers, Public and Staff Consultation, 10am -7pm, venue the McMillan Hall, Newton Stewart
26 March: Families, Carers, Public and Staff Consultation, 12pm – 2pm and 5pm – 7pm, Lockerbie Town Hall