NHS proposes changes to learning disability services on Tees

Published Friday, 8th September 2017

The NHS on Teesside is holding a public consultation on proposed changes to respite services for people with a learning disability, complex needs and/or autism.

Respite services are services or activities that help individuals and their carers recharge their batteries and create new opportunities to maximise longer term wellbeing.

Consultation events

NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who plan health services on Teesside, want to make a number of changes to the service, to offer more choice and to improve the focus on the needs of people with a learning disability, their carers and families.

The main change being proposed is to bed-based respite care – when someone needs a break away from home for one or a number of nights in a bed based setting.

At the moment, people access bed-based respite from two NHS facilities – 2 Bankfields Court in Middlesbrough, and Aysgarth in Stockton-on-Tees, which are provided by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

Beds at these facilities cost around £1.5 million every year, and the local NHS wants to invest this money to provide a broader range of services which may be delivered within the community rather than in a NHS hospital setting, giving people more choice about how they receive the respite they need.

The proposed changes could mean replacing the Middlesbrough and Stockton facilities with the ability to choose somewhere like a hotel or a caravan at a holiday park, or other community based setting, where people will be supported by appropriately trained and qualified staff on a needs led basis.

Replacing the Middlesbrough and Stockton facilities, or changing the way bed based services are delivered, would free up funds that could be invested in a wide range of community-based respite activities close to home. People could choose supported activities that provide similar benefits to traditional respite care such as gardening, a sports activity, or arts and craft.

The CCGs believe that this will provide more choice and opportunity for service users, reassure their families and carers, and provide better value for money.

As well as proposing changes to bed-based care for the people who currently access the service across Tees (around 100 people in total), the CCGs are proposing a number of changes that will offer more choice and a more equitable service for people with a learning disability, complex needs and/or autism. These are:

· Changing the assessment and allocations process, making it more needs led and equitable;

· Buying flexible community-based respite services and clinically-led outreach support services so that people with a learning disability can choose from a range of activities such as gardening, taking part in sports, arts and crafts etc.

The CCGs are consulting on two options and asking for people to get involved by completing a survey or attending a public meeting.

Option One Buy a range of Bed Based Respite services to replace the existing more limited Bed Based Respite services. Change the assessment and allocations process, making it more needs led. Buy flexible community based respite services. Buy clinically led outreach support services.

Option Two Continue to buy Bed Based Respite services at *2 Bankfields Court and Aysgarth. Change the assessment and allocations process, making it more needs led. Buy flexible community based respite services.

*maintaining services at 2 Bankfields Court and Aysgarth means there will be flexible community based respite care as in Option 1 but the availability will be limited due to the funding needed to maintain the existing service.

The CCGs are working with a voluntary sector partner to ensure people affected by any proposed changes have the opportunity to have their say and understand what it means to them through a series of facilitated discussions. Four, wider public meetings have also been arranged and are open to anyone to attend. Further information, including details of the public meetings is available on the CCG websites under the ‘Get Involved’ tab: www.southteesccg.nhs.uk and www.hartlepoolandstocktonccg.nhs.uk.

The consultation will run for 10 weeks, from Monday 4 September to Friday 10 November 2017.

Dr Janet Walker, Chair of NHS South Tees CCG and Dr Boleslaw Posmyk Chair of Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG said in a joint statement: “Respite services affect a very small proportion of our population, but we are determined to make sure those people are able to access a service that is based around their needs and the needs of their families and carers.

“Through an extensive engagement programme, we have listened to the views of people currently accessing the service, to understand what respite means to them. People told us that there needs to be a range of responsive options available for planned and emergency respite needs.

“People also told us that respite for people with learning disabilities and complex needs is limited, and that there needs to be better choice and better facilities, with innovative options aimed at an individual’s needs.

“We believe that we need to offer a better package of services for people, away from a hospital setting, closer to people’s homes and we believe that the options in our consultation offer a blend of services that reflects the feedback from people currently using services and our challenges in planning and buying services on behalf of our local populations.”