Concern over future of Horsham respite home

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A council committee has raise concern about the future of a Horsham residential home used for short breaks for children who have complex health needs.

West Sussex County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee heard at its meeting last Thursday, that numbers using some residential centres for short breaks, or respite, have been falling - partly due to parental choice and partly due to changes in NHS eligibility criteria.

There is particular concern for the future of two NHS residential units – the Cherries in Chichester and Holly Lodge in Horsham.

A taskforce has been set up by committee to examine these services in West Sussex.

These services provide respite to support families whose children have complex health needs.

During its meeting on November 15, the committee was updated on how the NHS is developing options for the future and to ensure that short breaks are available and expanded.

The committee heard from a representative speaking on behalf of parents who use the Cherries in Chichester that they want to be more involved in any decision process that takes place on the future of the services.

Committee members agreed that proposals for the future provision of short breaks should be scrutinised in more depth before any final decisions are made. They want to ensure that the needs of the whole family are taken into account, and that parents and special schools are involved in helping to find a solution. The taskforce will report back to the committee in the New Year.

Chairman Margaret Whitehead said: “It is important that we all – the NHS, West Sussex County Council, parents and others - work together to find a way of continuing this vital service.

“It was quite clear from the evidence we heard that short breaks are essential for families of children with complex health needs and disabilities, so we need to make sure they are improved and developed to meet the needs of these families.”

The committee also had a themed session on community health services at its meeting, focusing on how hospitals, community services, adult social care, mental health services and the ambulance service are working together to ensure people receive care closer to home and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

The committee highlighted a number of concerns, including the need to address long waiting times for physiotherapy and to improve discharge arrangements for when people leave hospital for home or a nursing home.

The next meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee is on Wednesday January 23, 2013, at County Hall North, Horsham, and will focus on services at East Surrey, Crawley and Horsham Hospitals.