06 December 2011

Proposed improvements to short break residential care for disabled children, to include the county’s first palliative care facility for children, are to be considered by Northamptonshire County Council next week (TUES 13 DEC).

A paper will be discussed by the council’s cabinet which outlines planned changes aimed at delivering a more consistent, higher quality service with improved facilities for disabled children across Northamptonshire.

Northamptonshire County Council and the NHS in Northamptonshire both provide residential short breaks for families of disabled children in different units in the county and have worked together to review the needs of disabled children and families and look at how well current services meet those needs.

The improvement plans will see the joint recommissioning of two units which will include palliative care.

Currently the council provides services from the John Greenwood Shipman Centre in Northampton and at 82 Northampton Road, Wellingborough, while the NHS funds short breaks at Camelot Way (for wheelchair users) in Northampton and The Squirrels in Rushden. There are inconsistencies within the current system which mean that occupancy rates at the centres vary between 87% and 57%, resulting in costs which vary between £260 and £480 per placement per night.

Improvements would include:

  • A jointly-commissioned model offering a fully integrated service across the county
  • Two eight-bedded centres for children with complex disability
  • £1m refurbishment of the John Greenwood Shipman Centre funded by a combination of Aiming High for Disabled Children and an interest-free loan from the NHS to be repaid in two instalments over the next five years
  • Breaks offered to any disabled child irrespective of their health or mobility needs
  • Proposed short break or end of life care to children with palliative needs at both units
  • Dedicated unit for children with challenging behaviour (82 Northampton Road will continue to provide for children with autistic spectrum disorders).

The whole service will be subject to a competitive tender process. The business case for clinical aspect of palliative care is to be approved.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: “We know from a recent review that the current system is in need of reform for a number of reasons.

“The short breaks service is inconsistent and inequitable. The units operate different eligibility criteria and offer different facilities and the system is not sufficiently flexible to provide a break in a suitable location for every child who needs one.

“The review also raised concerns about children missing out on education because transport from the units is uncoordinated.”

The report will be discussed at the cabinet meeting at 2pm on Tuesday 13 December. Members of the public are welcome to attend or watch the proceeding via webcam on the council’s website.


Notes to editors
Short break residential care may be referred to as respite care.