Carers hail 'absolutely amazing' council decision not to close Hayling Island respite centre for disabled adults

CARERS of adults with disabilities have hailed the ‘absolutely amazing’ decision to keep a vital respite centre open – after more than a year spent fighting for its future.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 10:03 am
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:08 am
Joanne Port with their son, Daniel Port. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The county council confirmed yesterday that Orchard Close on Hayling Island will stay open, after previously telling families it was at risk of closure.

The 13-bedroom Westfield Avenue site offers short breaks for adults with physical and learning disabilities to give their carers important respite.

Hampshire County Council eyed up shutting its doors in a bid to save £600,000 as it battles with falling funding from government.

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But a public consultation from December 16 until February, 2020 will instead look at reducing its beds from 13 to 10, to save £158,572.

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Joanne Port, from Havant, said the centre is ‘so important’ in the care of her 27-year-old son, Daniel, who has autism and learning difficulties.

‘This is absolutely amazing news – hopefully they keep to their word and don’t make a U-turn,' said Joanne, 59.

‘Daniel loves it there, he feels safe and the staff treat him like a human being with individual needs.

‘When he’s there I can relax because I know he’s getting the attention he needs and nothing is too much for the staff.’

According to the county council, about five jobs at Orchard Close could be lost if the decision is made to reduce the number of beds it has.

It said these members of staff would be relocated to other council services.

While the centre is confirm to stay open, a final decision on the bed numbers will be made in March and no reduction or relocation will take place before October next year.

Ms Port said the staff at Orchard Close ‘must be cherished’ at a time when many are ‘treated like a number' as councils face funding cuts.

‘Some of them have so many years’ experience and they know exactly what to do for Daniel and exactly when to do it,' she said.

‘When the council was first talking about the possible closure, they were the first people who came to mind. They are amazing.’

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and health at the county council, said concerns over the site remain.

‘I am worried about the savings and their impact on services. I know we have to find the money and I’m worried,' she said.

Fareham resident Francis Allison, whose son has been using Orchard Close for years, thanked officers and councillors for their decision.

‘The proposals to now keep Orchard Close open has come with a great relief,' he said.

‘We are very pleased. It is a change from the original proposal to shut it.’