This is the text of a letter sent to parents of clients who use Seeleys Short Breaks Service.
"We are writing to you because we want to tell you about our plans for the future of residential short breaks in Buckinghamshire.
As you know this service (also known as respite) is currently located at Seeleys House in Beaconsfield. However, we have been looking to move it to a more suitable building for a few years. We know this been very frustrating for many of you and we sincerely apologise.
Although we had to shelve plans to move to the Orchard House site, we have continued working behind the scenes to find a viable alternative. We now have a new plan for the re-location of our residential short break service – and want to share it with you.
What happens next?
The plan will go ‘public’ on 21 December 2018 when we publish the new proposal on our website.
As someone who will hopefully benefit from the service we wanted you to hear about these proposed plans from us first. We have arranged to talk to parents, carers and staff on the 20 December. Following feedback from previous meetings, we are not arranging for an initial formal session for service users but we would like to talk to you at this meeting on how best to engage with people using the services.
The proposal for adult residential short breaks will be looked at by Councilors at the Cabinet Meeting on 7 January 2019. Cabinet meetings are open to the public or you can view them live online.
The proposal asks Cabinet members if we can consult with you about the proposal. If agreed, a six-week consultation on how the proposal will affect current services users and their families will begin on 16 January 2019.
Your information meeting
We would like to invite you to an information meeting [on 20 December] with Council representatives from both Commissioning and Operations. At the meeting we will tell you about our plans for relocating residential short breaks and answer any questions you may have."
Over the last month or so we have had a Coffee Morning for the Short Breaks Service (where parents had the opportunity to meet the head of Adult Social Care and the Director of Operations) and a Parent/Carer Engagement Meeting. At the same time BCC is consulting on its Short Breaks Policy. More on this later.
Sadly we have said goodbye to Alan Mather, Jess Robinson and James Barnes in the Day Centre and to Jenny Long in Short Breaks (Respite). They will be missed. Unfortunately, BCC “are looking very closely at their staff resource across all services to make sure we stay within our finite financial envelope and only recruit where there is a clear cut business need to do so” (which is interpreted as a recruitment freeze at the working level) so Alan and Jess are being replaced by “permanent agency” staff. Sue Green is the acting Manager of Short Breaks with Dee Sachania the Deputy Service Manager.
FOSH has continued to support both Day and Respite Services. We have paid for a second weekly sensory session with Trina Richards and for transport from Premier Taxis (a minibus) to allow Day Service clients to be taken out every week to places like Grove Stables where clients are able to interact with the horses. A good relationship with the driver has developed but the days when Seeleys/BCC had their own transport and drivers seem like a different age! SBAD paid for the refurbishment of Room 2 and FOSH and SBAD have shared the cost of furniture and sensory equipment for this room. FOSH has bought a tablet computer which will allow staff to show pictures and videos of events and outings to all clients. We also replaced the stock shades which provided shade in the garden where we have the wheelchair swing (quite important this last summer!).
In the run up to Christmas we have paid for a visit by Friendly Bombs on the 4 December. I am told they were absolutely amazing, everyone really got involved and appeared to be having a good time. They opened the morning with an introduction and a welcome song, the clients were then split into 3 groups which consisted of: space making object, sensory objects, and tasters, they then rotated. They then performed a really interactive, theatrical story. Yet to come there will be a Carol Singing and Mince Pie afternoon for clients and parents on the 20th December followed by a clients’ traditional Christmas Dinner (not the same day I hasten to add).
Apart from the changes “at the coalface” there have also been a number of changes in the management of BCC’s Communities, Health & Adult Social Care (CHASC) with a number of people being recruited from out of county. CHASC is now headed by Gillian Quinton (as Executive Director) with Karen Jackson replacing Ali Bulman as Director of Operations and Jane Bowie replacing Rachel Rothero as Director of Integrated Commissioning. Elizabeth Saunders is Head of Service, Integrated Commissioning under Jane Bowie. Andy Leach is Head of Direct Care and Support Services which covers most of the services that went into and then out of Bucks Care. Some of you may have had contact with the Service User and Carer Organisation (SUCO) during the earlier engagement meetings or in the Partnership Boards. SUCO is no more with its role being taken over by Talkback. We have asked that that for Seeleys clients, parents will be given the opportunity to be involved and that no discussions with clients will take place without the parents being informed in advance.
Many of you will have met Kelly Taylor (Lead Commissioner for Direct Care including Day Services and Seeleys) while she was working on the Fulfilling Lives project and on the plans for Orchard House. Sadly Kelly is leaving BCC at the end of the year and her position is currently being advertised. Adam Willison who has been working for Kelly for a while remains in post. Following the consultation on the Short Breaks Strategy, BCC are now consulting on the Short Breaks Policy which follows on. Information was shared about this earlier in November. Having read the Policy a number of points have been raised:
- How long is “Short”? While BCC’s position is that the length of a short break depends on the assessed need of each individual and their carer, It is hoped that they would recognise that in the Seeleys Respite context it could be anything from a single overnight stay to one or two weeks.
- It was good to see that they cover Unplanned Short Breaks in the Policy. For any client who has to have an Unplanned Short Break because for example one or both of their parents is ill it is a potentially traumatic experience. However if it is in a familiar setting then such as Seeleys it will be much less stressful for the client (and for their parents).
- The draft policy says that usually no more than 28 days of residential overnight would be provided in a 12-month period. The draft policy also states that if there is evidence of need for further periods of residential short breaks beyond 28 days then these will be considered on a case by case basis. Many of Seeleys families get and need significantly more that 28 days although BCC has been unable to tell me the average number of days that families currently get.
There will be drop-in events at Seeleys on Thursday 10 January from 10am – 12pm and from 5pm – 7pm. The consultation will close a few days later on 14 January. Please don’t miss the opportunity to make your views known. (You can email email@example.com or call 01296 383 122 and leave a message. The Policy itself can be found on our website). Consultation on implementation is likely to start shortly after that and a letter is going out to Short Breaks families this week – a Cabinet paper concerning residential short breaks, which encompasses the service at Seeleys, will be published on the BCC Website on 21st December.
We were expecting that the “Fulfilling Lives” team would be looking at all the Day services centre by centre with Seeleys being addressed in late 2018/early 2019. This has slipped and presumably will be happening some time in 2019. BCC says that this Day opportunities programme, part of the wider Direct Care & Support Transformation (which includes Short Breaks, etc.) is about working with people and their families, where possible, to access community alternatives. Hopefully they recognise (we have said it often enough) that there is a need for a building-based service for clients such as those using Seeleys and Hillcrest.
A six week consultation on BCC's Short Breaks Strategy took place between June and August 2018. They have now started consultation (which will run until 14 January next year) on the Policy that comes out of that Strategy. They will then need to work on implementation. (This consultation runs alongside one on Short Breaks for Children and Young People which should at least help in planning the transition from children's to adult services.).
BCC is looking at a wide range of options both in who can access Short Breaks and in what they are. The Strategy states that eligibility based short breaks may include:
- Support in the persons own home from a temporary care worker.
- A short break away from home (not necessarily overnight) for the carer. This gives the carer a break from their caring role. For example Shared Lives, Day Opportunities.
- A temporary stay in a care home or other supported environment.
- Overnight residential short breaks - these will only be for people with the most complex needs that cannot be met within a community context.
- Unplanned or emergency care which may be required when the usual carer is unavailable at short-notice.
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