Crunch meeting over respite home delayed

Parents of disabled children will have to wait to air their concerns about closure plans for a respite home after health chiefs postponed a meeting due to be held today.

Parents of disabled children will have to wait to air their concerns about closure plans for a respite home after health chiefs postponed a meeting due to be held today.

The Squirrels bungalow at Aylsham was earmarked for

closure, with services switching to a sister Little Acorns unit at Gorleston.

The move shocked parents like Tina Ellerbrook, whose 10-year-old daughter Kate regularly uses the home - giving her family a break from 24-hour caring.

But a workshop between officials and parents, due to be held today, will now be held later, after it was decided extra detailed work should be carried out “before moving forward with established proposals,” according to Norfolk Primary Care Trust.

A PCT spokesman said it was not

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a rethink on respite care in general, nor was it driven by parents' concerns.

Once the extra work had been carried out and reported to the management executive there would be full consultation with staff and patients.

Mrs Ellerbook from Wicklewood, near Wymondham, said officials should discuss any closure

with those affected before a

decision was made.

Her daughter Kate has whole body cerebral palsy combined with epilepsy, meaning she needs constant care and medication, along with trips to hospital and the respite home.

“We have to listen all night through a baby monitor and run down the corridor if it sounds

like she is having a fit, then get

up at 6.30am to start her medication.

“The respite care gives us a break from the 24-7 caring, which nurses do in three shifts, but which we do from start to finish.

“We need her spells in Squirrels to catch up with some proper sleep and to spend time with our other two teenage daughters,” she added.

Shutting Squirrels would mean longer trips to Gorleston, whose beds would be under pressure from far more cases.

The unit is on the St Michael's Hospital site at Aylsham which is the only community hospital site in Norfolk earmarked for total closure under a review of local beds which caused consternation and campaigns across many communities in Norfolk.

The PCT says proposed closure of the Squirrels unit, and transfer to the updated Acorns building, was part of its aim to put services in “more appropriate” care environments.

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