Plans to change respite services for Hartlepool people with learning disabilities

Dr Boleslaw Posmyk
Dr Boleslaw Posmyk

Respite services for people in Hartlepool with learning difficulties and their families could soon change.

The NHS on Teesside is holding a public consultation on proposed changes to respite services for those with a learning disability, complex needs and/or autism.

NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group say they want to offer more choice and improve the focus on the needs of the person with learning disabilities and their carers and families.

The main change being proposed is to overnight respite care.

At the moment, people access bed-based respite from two NHS facilities, 2 Bankfields Court in Middlesbrough and Aysgarth in Stockton, at a cost of £1.5million every year.

The NHS says it wants to invest this money to provide a broader range of services and the proposed changes could mean replacing the facilities with the ability to choose somewhere like a hotel or a caravan at a holiday park, or other community-based settings.

It would also free up funds that could be invested in a wider range of community-based respite activities such as gardening, a sports activity, or arts and craft.

Dr Janet Walker, chairman of NHS South Tees CCG and Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, chairman of Hartlepool and Stockton CCG said in a joint statement: “Respite services affect a very small proportion of our population, but we are determined to make sure those people are able to access a service that is based around their needs and the needs of their families and carers.

“We have listened to the views of people currently accessing the service, to understand what respite means to them.

“People told us that there needs to be a range of responsive options available for planned and emergency respite needs.

“People also told us that respite for people with learning disabilities and complex needs is limited, and that there needs to be better choice and better facilities.

“We believe that we need to offer a better package of services for people, away from a hospital setting, closer to people’s homes.”

As well as proposing changes to bed-based care, which is currently accessed by around 100 people, the CCGs are proposing changes that will offer more choice for people with a learning disability, such as changing the assessment and allocations process to make it more needs led and buying flexible community-based respite services.

The CCGs are consulting on two options and asking for people to get involved by completing a survey or attending a public meeting.

Option One is to buy a range of bed-based respite services to replace the existing ones. Change the assessment and allocations process making it more needs led. Buy flexible community based respite services.

Buy clinically led outreach support services.

Option Two is to continue to buy services at the NHS families in Middlesbrough and Stockton. Change the assessment and allocations process, making it more needs led. Buy flexible community based respite services.

The consultation will run for ten weeks, until November 10, and four public meetings will be held.

For information go to the ‘Get Involved’ section at www.southteesccg.nhs.uk and www.hartlepoolandstocktonccg.nhs.uk.