SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, has said he is relieved, that in a recent answer to an SDLP Assembly question, Health Minister, Jim Wells, has formally given assurance that the ‘Cottages’ respite facility will remain open for respite services for children with disabilities in Derry.
Speaking to the Derry Journal yesterday, Mr. Durkan said, “We have the formal assurance from the Health Minister that the ‘Cottages’ facility will remain open for our most vulnerable children as a respite service. However, what is still not clear is to what scale that facility will continue to operate.”
He added: “While, I welcome the commitment from Trust representatives that the needs of families will be listened to, I am concerned to have learned that while this ‘consultation’ period is undergoing, some families are being cherry picked to attend an open day at the Omagh facility. Any families I have spoken with have out rightly rejected the opportunity to visit the Omagh respite facility, as it is simply not an option for their children to travel.
“It is vital that in the weeks ahead, the local community support these vulnerable children and their dedicated parents make the case for the continuation of the respite services they have been receiving in Derry. Any scale back would not only pose a potential danger to the health of the child but a very real threat to the health and wellbeing of the parents caring for their children with complex needs. I am continuing to work closely with the Health Minister and the Western Trust to secure the future of the Cottages and safeguard respite services here locally.”
When contacted by the Derry Journal a spokesperson for Western Trust said: “The staff consultation period has been extended by one week to facilitate staff responses. Trust staff continue to engage with families on an individual basis.”