Mum’s disgust at care decision

Joan Buck with her 33-year-old daughter Joanne in their Seaham home, they will be a victims of care funding cuts.
Joan Buck with her 33-year-old daughter Joanne in their Seaham home, they will be a victims of care funding cuts.
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A DISGUSTED mum has hit out after her severely disabled daughter had her respite care cut in half.

Joan Buck’s daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy, spends eight weeks a year at the Donna Claire Venture Short Break Service, in Seaburn, Sunderland.

The home provides a break for both Joan and Joanne, 33, who are otherwise together all day every day.

But the family has been told a reshuffle of services means there are only enough funds to send Joanne to Donna Claire four weeks every year – halving the family’s provision.

In a double blow for the family, an assessment by social services decided that Joanne is not eligible to be bussed to and from the Shinwell Centre, in Peterlee, which she also attends Monday to Friday each week.

Upset Joan, 57, of Portland Avenue, Seaham, said: “When she’s away the time is my own and I haven’t got the clock on my back. Your time is precious with them anyway.

“I don’t know how they are expecting people to cope.

“We had an assessment and they said that the bus couldn’t come and pick her up and bring her back from the Shinwell Centre.

“They are taking it off vulnerable people.

“I have got to take her now and it’s costing me £40 a week in petrol to go and get her.”

Joan, also mum to Allan, 38, Dean, 26, and grandmother to Kaitlyn, 15, Lewis, 13, Kacey, two, and Layla, two months, also called for care funding to be “protected”.

“They are messing with people’s lives doing this,” she added.

Geraldine Plunkett, manager of Donna Claire, said she was in agreement with Mrs Buck.

“They should be getting more help not less as they are getting older,” she said.

“People have to remember that these children grow up and become 30, 40 and 50-years-old.

“We have 50-year-olds being looked after by their 80-year-old mothers and families face this every day.”

Of the situation at Donna Claire, Tracy Joisce, Durham County Council operations manager for learning disabilities and mental health, said: “We are currently reviewing all respite care in order to ensure that people across the county have equal access to respite services.

“This may mean that some people get more provision while others may receive less.

“Our primary aim is to ensure that everyone receives the best possible service that fully meets their needs.”

Explaining the changes in bus transport, Lesley Jeavons, the council’s head of adult care, said: “Everyone who receives care services through the council has an individual annual review of their needs and entitlements.

“This review includes an assessment of transport needs.

“In line with our transport policy, when assessing whether a person qualifies for transport we consider not only their disability but also other factors such as the level of mobility allowance they receive and whether they have access to suitable alternative transport.

“Service users and carers are informed that decisions regarding the care they receive can be reviewed on request.”