Thousands of NW carers in need of short beaks: Trust

The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059
The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059

Carers of adults with learning disabilities accessed respite services on over 1,500 occasions over the past two years, according to figures newly-released by the Western Trust under Freedom of Information legislation.

Respite beds were accessed 785 times during the 2014/15 financial year and a further 780 times during 2015/16. That’s 1,565 over the two years.

Twelve beds are provided across three facilities, at The Cottages on Dungiven Road, and at Beltany House in Omagh (eight beds). Beds are also purchased from a number of independent providers.

The Trust confirmed “each client is assessed on an individual basis for respite which ranges from three weeks (21 days) to eight weeks (56 days).”

A spokesperson for the Western Trust confirmed that it provided a range of short break services for adults with learning disabilities.

“Short breaks, formerly known as respite, are provided primarily for the carer of an adult with a learning disability to provide a break from their caring role and to enable carer’s to continue with their caring role and maintain their adult with a learning disability at home,” the spokesperson said.

“The Carer’s and Direct Payment Act places a statutory duty on Trusts to assess the needs of carers and this includes the provision of short breaks.”

The spokesperson added: “Self directed support allows for greater control and more flexibility by individuals and families over a personalised budget.

“It includes a number of options for getting support through provision of short breaks.”

A review carried out in 2015 recommended that “the HSC Board should review the current level of short break provision and funding within each Trust with a view to addressing any inequity of provision over the course of the forthcoming CSR period.”

It also stipulated that “short break (respite) care episodes must be provided on the basis of a written and signed carer’s assessment and a carer support plan, the outcomes of which must be aggregated centrally for managerial purposes.”