Rosebud respite ‘partially reopened’ but still no overnight stays for Derry family

Rosebud Cottage, a short-term respite centre for children with learning disabilities, has been ‘partially reopened’ this month after being closed since December 2021.

The centre closed eight months ago to cater for a child who was ‘in crisis’ but families were told at the time that the centre would only close for three months. The Western Trust says the delay was caused by an ‘unprecedented level of need to accommodate placement breakdowns’ and say they are ‘focused’ on bringing Rosebud back to full capacity.

Direct Payments were provided for families when the centre closed and they were also told they could avail of short-term services in Omagh, which didn’t suit some families of children with complex needs.

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Claire McGill’s daughter Shannon is 14 and has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, a form of incurable epilepsy which means she has seizures daily, some of which require medical intervention. Claire says Shannon wouldn’t have been able to travel to Omagh for overnight respite in case she took a big seizure but they also weren’t offered use of the service.

Shannon is 14 and mum Claire says Rosebud respite centre is an 'invaluable' resource for her family.

Claire said: “To be honest, when I was told that Rosebud would close for three months, I took it with a pinch of salt. We just knew from the last closure that this would be longer too. I know its unique circumstances and it’s no ones fault, other than the fact that there is a lack of resources for families like ours and children with disabilities, but it’s exhausting to have to fight for everything when it comes to our children.

“Shannon loves going to Rosebud. The staff there are amazing; they are great with the children and so professional and this is in no way a reflection of the wonderful staff. There just aren’t enough facilities in the Derry City and Strabane area - none, really, for people with disabilities. There’s a serious lack of facilities in Northern Ireland in general, so Shannon can’t get out much to socialise. We do as much as we can but we know when she’s in the likes of Rosebud, she’s getting out to new surroundings and meeting different people. We’ve been restricted over the past couple of years with Shannon because we had lockdown and then, after Covid, we only got one or two nights in Rosebud before it closed down again so she hasn’t gotten full use of Rosebud yet. We’re hoping that this time, it’ll be a bit more consistent and more permanent. We also have a son so, when Shannon goes into respite, we use that as a holiday for him or one-on-one time with him.

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“Shannon has started attending Rosebud again but the overnight stays haven’t started yet for us. The last time I was in a meeting about Shannon, they were looking at opening the facility to the public but haven’t set any dates yet. They are now doing The Outreach Programme, where they come in the bus, take Shannon out for a few hours and leave her back that evening. We’ve only been availing of this for a few weeks so I don’t know how long it’s been available. There’s only so much you can do in a few hours, however, so I might get some shopping done or something but we really do miss the overnight stays. It’s invaluable for families like ours in similar circumstances.

“It’s always the most vulnerable people who suffer from cuts first. Years ago, when the facility was over in Glendermott, that had to be closed down and then Rosebud had to close. It always seems to be the children and adults with disabilities or older people who suffer the most.

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Claire with 14 year old daughter Shannon.

“The children love Rosebud. The staff are so good with them but they’re not given the proper chance to even bond with the children. There’s other children who need the chance to bond with their carers and get comfortable but they’re not given the chance because it’s stop - start all the time and it’s not fair.”

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“We are equally committed to providing additional supports through Direct Payments for children and their families and, where assessed as appropriate, by using external partners to provide additional support. The Trust very much recognises the stress and strain the current situation has placed on families and was committed to resolving this issue at the earliest opportunity. As such, it has managed to succeed in partially reopening Rosebud short break unit from 10 August 2022 and is focused on bringing Rosebud back to full capacity.

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“The Rosebud staff had been redirected to provide outreach support using other Trust and community facilities which had been praised by parents. They have also used another Trust facility to provide limited short breaks for children with complex health and learning needs.

Shannon is 14 and mum Claire says Rosebud respite centre is an 'invaluable' resource for her family.
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“The delay in reopening was due to the unprecedented level of need to accommodate placement breakdowns during the past number of months. The Trust has worked on and continues to work on contingency plans to avoid a similar closure going forward.”

Claire with her 14 year old daughter Shannon who uses respite facilities in Rosebud Cottages. Claire says it's 'frustrating' that the service keeps closing because of lack of funding.
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Shannon and her mum Claire. Shannon has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, a form of epilepsy which means she takes seizures daily. Shannon loves going to Rosebud and Claire says it enables her daughter to socialise and go places she wouldn't be able to otherwise.