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Mum’s fight as Sunderland council chiefs plan cuts to respite care for disabled youngsters

Pamela Mann with handicapped daughter Tara Lancaster (14), of Dellfield Drive, Pennywell, Sunderland. Pamela is concerned about plans to proposed cuts to respite care.

Pamela Mann with handicapped daughter Tara Lancaster (14), of Dellfield Drive, Pennywell, Sunderland. Pamela is concerned about plans to proposed cuts to respite care.

A SEVERELY disabled teenager is facing losing the weekends of respite care that gives her mother a much-needed break from looking after her 24 hours a day.

Tara Lancaster, 14, is entirely dependent on her mum Pamela Mann.

She can’t walk, talk, or feed herself and has severe developmental delay.

Born with Ohdo syndrome, Tara has to be fed through a tube, and the only time Pamela gets a break from looking after her is the three nights a month that Tara goes to Sunderland City Council’s Sea View Road respite centre.

But the 53-year-old fears that could now be snatched away after council chiefs launched a review into cutting costs at the centre.

They are proposing to close it on Sundays and Mondays, the times when its services are most in demand, according to Pamela.

“It’s taken me three years to acclimatise my daughter,” Pamela told the Echo. “She has very complex needs.

“The employees are absolutely brilliant. They are extremely passionate about caring for these kids.

“As a parent of this very, very disabled child, I am speaking for so many other parents in the same boat.

“She can’t care for herself whatsoever. I have to do everything for her, day and night. I have no family that can help look after her.

“We are talking about three nights, once a month from Friday to Monday.

“We both need a break. All we want is a weekend off. It’s all terribly, terribly wrong.”

Tara’s stepfather John Stormont, 48, works nights, so Pamela is on her own a lot of the time, except when Tara attends school at Portland Academy, Doxford Park.

She is planning to put up a fight against the proposals for the future of the facility, which cares for 61 children from Sunderland and Washington.

Pamela, of Pennywell, will attend a consultation meeting at Sunderland’s Civic Centre tomorrow for her and other affected parents.

“They are saying parents are not allowed to have a weekend off,” she said.

“They want to close at the time it is most needed, and it will stay open mid-week nights when the children are all at school.”

The council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Coun Pat Smith, said: “Sea View Road plays an important role in providing short break care for disabled children. To continue providing the same high standards of care, we need to reduce costs.

“For this reason, we have asked parents to consider changing the maximum consecutive number of overnight stays available from seven to five, closing on Sunday and Monday, when demand is at its lowest.

“We have produced a draft plan, March 2014 to June 2014, to show how the revised service would work, and are asking parents for their help and support to introduce the changes we need to make to ensure the long-term future of Sea View Road.”

 

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