Dozens of special needs families still going without respite care in Northamptonshire
Mother Juliet Stacey has had respite for her son restored, but 40 other county families are still waiting for the support they are entitled to
Special needs families in Northamptonshire are not receiving the respite care they are entitled to as the county’s independent children’s trust is struggling to source providers.
Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT), which runs children’s services for Northants, says that Brexit and the pandemic has had an impact on the availability of workers in the care sector which is having an effect on service provision.
40 families in the county are currently going without the help they are entitled to, meaning they are not having a short period of relief from the pressures of looking after their special needs children.
A spokesperson for Northamptonshire Children’s Trust has told NN Journal:
“In mid-January there were 47 families seeking provision for respite care. Currently there are 40 families, including two families who have been added since 1st February 22. Of these, assessment is currently in progress for 11 support packages after which appropriate provision will be sought.
There continues to be national workforce challenges in the care sector. Brexit and Covid have had an exceptional impact on the number of carers available which the whole of the caring industry, including us, is trying to resolve.
Providers are still finding it difficult to recruit and retain carers which is leaving them unable to take on more packages. They are working hard to resolve this and in some cases are seeking to recruit carers from outside the UK.
Two new providers have been identified and they are currently going through quality checks.”
Juliet Stacey, who NN Journal featured back in January, had a new respite package introduced three weeks ago for her 12 year old son Dominic, and although pleased with the new service thinks the main reason it was put back in place, while dozens of other families are still waiting is because she spoke out.
Back in October the weekend and school holiday respite she had been receiving to help out with the care of her autistic son was stopped after the care company being used by the Children’s Trust had its contract ended due to safeguarding concerns.
Rather than put alternative care in place for four months, the trust said it was struggling to find a provider.
“The difference (between the new company and old) is fantastic. They turn up in brand new vehicles and when they started they knew all about Dom and what he likes, which is great.
And when he knows he is going out with the agency he can’t get his clothes on quick enough and is waiting by the door.
But the respite hours I missed during those months I will not get back, so what has happened to all that money that has been saved?
I do feel that if I hadn't spoken out, which I normally would not have, I would still be waiting. It is not fair on those other families that they are still waiting.”
As an independent trust the detailed budgets of the service are now not publicly available. The trust was set up in November 2020 after the government decided that the Conservative led council running the service was no longer capable of doing so, in the wake of a terrible Ofsted inspection and the deaths of two young children already known to the service.
NN Journal asked the trust if the failure to provide respite to 40 families was saving money from its budget and if so how much?
Their spokesperson said:
“NCT has increased its resources to explore all options to be able to put respite packages into place. We have regular contact with providers as well as updates on their current situation so that support can be put in place as soon as it becomes available. We also continue to work to identify whether families can be supported in other ways while they are waiting for respite support. This includes support and activities in the community, non-residential short breaks, direct payments and paying for additional nursery support.
Not having packages in place will not create savings for NCT because in the long-term families can end up requiring additional support; we are also providing additional support where possible in the meantime.”
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