A struggling mum today hit out at the “bureaucratic and unsympathetic” approach to offering respite care that she claims will leave her family at crisis point.
Kathleen Lett, 49, whose 12-year-old daughter is severely disabled, spoke out after Lancashire County Council approved plans to close at least one local respite care centre for disabled children as part of £179m budget cuts.
The move will see some struggling families denied respite places and instead offered cash payments to sort out an alternative.
But mum-of-two Kathleen says families like hers are already at “breaking point” and the system is too complicated.
Her daughter Samantha, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder and has cerebral palsy, goes to Maplewood House respite centre in Bamber Bridge, which is one of the eight centres facing possible closure, once a week for one-to-one care and to spend time with children with similar conditions.
Kathleen said: “The council seems to be missing the point altogether.
“This respite is the one night a week that Samantha gets to act like any other child, to interact with her friends and to get one-on-one attention.
“It is also the one night a week that the rest of the family can get a break and a decent night’s sleep.
“It also means we can spend time with our son, who often misses out because so much of our time is spent on Samantha’s needs.
“Direct payments are fine on paper but hiring someone to come into our house to look after our daughter while we are there isn’t really the respite all of us need.
“You can’t turn off in that situation.
“It’s also very complicated.
“We are already struggling to cope, without having to become administrators too.”
Direct payments give parents control of how they spend the money to support their children, so the council provides the cash for care rather than being the care provider.
The do-it-yourself system means users have responsibility for employing carers.