‘Cottages’ investment ‘great outcome’ says dad

Derry father, Frank Gallagher, with his son, Eoin, who uses the 'Cottages' respite unit in the Waterside.

Derry father, Frank Gallagher, with his son, Eoin, who uses the 'Cottages' respite unit in the Waterside.

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A Derry father, whose son avails of respite care at ‘The Cottages’ respite care unit in the Waterside, has described the recent financial investment in the facility as a “great outcome”.

“This is a great outcome, but there is more to do for the longer term and efforts on all sides will continue, as we would hope the fantastic support this worthy cause has had to date will continue,” said Frank Gallagher.

‘The Cottages’ offers respite care to families with young children with complex needs.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust (W.H.S.C.T.) had put forward proposals in 2014 that would have seen a decrease in the quality of respite care available at ‘The Cottages’.

Along with the help and support of political representatives from all parties and the wider Derry public, the parents of children who used ‘The Cottages’ organised a campaign to protect and maintain the service.

Earlier this week, the W.H.S.C.T. said the level of respite care at the unit would be maintained as a result of recent financial investment.

“It cannot be overstated how important this news is to the families,” said Mr. Gallagher.

“Respite is how we cope, and is a lifeline - the threat to which caused a long period of great anxiety which is now thankfully lifted.”

Mr. Gallagher was quick to thank all the political representatives and the wider Derry public who supported the campaign to save ‘The Cottages’.

“The support of the people of Derry and our representatives was vital in calling those plans to question, and ultimately in creating the opportunity for family representatives and W.H.S.C.T. to work together over the last 15 months in reviewing not only the immediate threat to existing services but also questions around the provision of future services.”

A spokesperson for the W.H.S.C.T. said it would continue to work collaboratively with parents in order to maintain respite services at the unit.

“The W.H.S.C.T. wishes to reiterate to the public that it never proposed to close ‘The Cottages’ Residential Short Break Service. The W.H.S.C.T. had been reviewing this service to ensure services are designed to meet the complexity of the current demand, are safe, sustainable and are provided within the commissioned level of funding.

“Recently received investment, alongside the collaborative working of W.H.S.C.T. staff with parents and service commissioners has been enormously beneficial in responding to this task,” said the spokesperson. This collaborative approach will continue in order to further plan and respond to emerging needs and the design of future service provision for children with disabilities and their families.”