13 December 2011

Proposed improvements to short break residential care for disabled children, which will include the county’s first dedicated palliative care facilities for children, have been given the green light by Northamptonshire County Council today (TUES 13 DEC).

The council’s cabinet gave its backing to proposed changes aimed at delivering a more consistent, higher quality service with improved facilities for disabled children across Northamptonshire.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: “These proposals have their origins in the county’s Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, which has been the catalyst for the transformation of services and facilities for disabled children since 2008.

“Key to the success of the Aiming High programme has been the direct involvement of children, young people and families in identifying what works and what needs improving. The short breaks service is one of the areas that parents told us had room for improvement.

“As a result, a joint review was carried out and its findings backed up what parents were telling us, that there were inconsistencies in the service, that it wasn’t flexible enough to take into account where children live, that the lack of co-ordination means children are missing out on large chunks of their school day and that there is an unmet need for palliative care for very ill children.

“Now that we’ve given the proposals our approval, I hope that parents will continue to use opportunities to influence the new service. We are in the process of recruiting a parent representative to the project board and we will ask parents for their input during the contract tender phase.”

As a result of today’s cabinet decision, the council and the NHS will now draw up more detailed plans for a jointly-commissioned service. The new service will incorporate two eight-bedded centres for children with physical needs. Both units would have dedicated facilities for end of life care to children with palliative care needs.

There will also be a countywide dedicated unit for children with challenging behaviour.

The improvements will require the £1million refurbishment of the John Greenwood Shipman Centre in Northampton as well as a contract tender process to select a provider for the second unit. The tender process will be open to any organisation or group from any sector that can demonstrate its ability to provide the services to the required standard.

A dedicated short break unit for children with autism (82 Northampton Road) will continue to provide for this group of children.

The business case for clinical aspect of palliative care is to be approved.


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

Northamptonshire County Council and the NHS in Northamptonshire both provide residential short breaks for families of disabled children in different units in the county.

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.