THE father of a disabled young man is concerned that many people who need respite support for their loved ones are missing out as places are being filled by those in need of long-term care.
Neil Man, whose 24-year-old son is in respite care at Beach House care home in Hove, spoke up after hearing from Meredith McGill.
Ms McGill, the mother of an autistic teenager with learning disabilities, was unable to get respite care for him during a family emergency.
Beach House provides respite care for over 18s.
Mr Man, from Portslade, said because people live there long-term, only two or three beds are available for a night’s rest for the 50 or more families who need the service.
Mr Man and his partner were on five nights a month off before the coronavirus pandemic when it was canceled due to lockdown and Covid restrictions.
Brighton and Hove City Council has since reassessed their needs.
He said: “We can’t do without our night’s rest after several months, including lockdown.
“There was no plan, no discussions. There was no communication or updates. It was terrible.
“Even before Covid, the situation was the same as it is now, with people living there blocking the beds.
“We are now getting our respite from the difficulties and we are very glad that our valued needs are now being met.”
Mr Man did not blame those who are stuck at the Westbourne Villas care home because many of them have nowhere else to go locally.
He said: “The council needs to find a place for her, assisted living. If they are moved there, the beds will be released for their intended purpose.
“The people who live there, it’s not their fault. Some have been offered places outside the area and are not compelled to take them.
“Beach House has become a dumping ground for people who need dormitories and assisted living but can’t find anything anywhere. More recovery beds must be available to meet the needs of the people who need them.
“There are 50 people supported by Beach House and they are just the ones that have been rated. There are dozens of people who cannot even get a care needs assessment to get relief.
“Someone on the council said no one was complaining about the lack of calm and I just laughed knowing people don’t get the ratings. Your needs are not being met.
“People don’t complain because they’re exhausted. They worry about things being taken away. The Council wouldn’t do that, but it doesn’t stop the fear of rocking the boat.”
The challenge of foster care places for long-term residents also impacts the community’s budget.
A report to the Policy and Resources Committee predicted an additional spend of £217,000 in the current financial year related to the long-term placement of adults with learning disabilities at the Beach House.
It said high levels of staff absenteeism and the cost of temporary accommodation at the Beach House added to financial pressures.
Labor councilor John Allcock expressed concern that the council was projecting overspending on residential respite care due to the cost of emergency accommodation.
The council’s adult welfare director Deb Austin said there was a lack of alternative accommodation options and her staff were trying to “be creative” to deal with the problem.
Staffing is also a factor, she said, adding, “We’re really struggling there with labor shortages and recruitment.
“It has to do with the cost of living crisis and until recently we weren’t that competitive. I hope that the agreement on the salary steps will have a positive impact on that.”
The council said: “Our Beach House service provides both planned respite care for adults with learning disabilities and emergency placements.
“The emergency places are particularly important for our older nursing staff. Because sometimes they have health issues of their own that can affect their ability to act as caregivers for weeks or sometimes months.
“This inevitably means emergency shelters can last quite a long time. But we can give them the reassurance they need that their son or daughter will be supported in a familiar environment while caregivers fully recover their health.
“Long-term cuts in central government funding and difficulties in recruiting staff are key issues. Brighton and Hove is no exception to this situation.
“However, Beach House continues to comply with all existing Scheduled Rest Arrangements for people and their families and is accepting new recommendations for Scheduled Rest Breaks.”
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