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Council ‘not listening’ to parents’ concerns over closure of Morley House in King’s Lynn

PUBLISHED: 10:49 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:49 18 October 2018

Jessica Kibble, left, and Claire Clarke hand a petition to County Hall to save Morley House earlier this year  
Picture: Antony Kelly

Jessica Kibble, left, and Claire Clarke hand a petition to County Hall to save Morley House earlier this year Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2018

Officials are failing to communicate with or listen to parents as they press ahead with closing a home for children with complex needs, an MP claims.

Parents affected by the closure of Morley House in Kings Lynn, a respite home for children with complex needs, have met South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and representatives from Norfolk County Council to discuss ongoing concerns about alternative respite care in west Norfolk.

The council announced earlier this year that Morley House would close in August and that the children would move to Marshfields, also in Kings Lynn.

After intervention from Ms Truss and fellow MP Sir Henry Bellingham, the council agreed to extend the contract for Morley House until March 2019.

But Marshfields has four beds, while 10 are available at Morley House.

Ms Truss called a meeting after concerns were raised about the lack of like for like care and whether the number of days offered for respite could be delivered.

She said she had been told by the head of children’s cervices Sara Tough and head of commissioning Tim Eyres that the council was looking at more community-based support for parents but would ensure parents would still be able to access respite care.

Ms Truss said after the meeting: “I am frustrated that some six months on, Norfolk County Council is still not communicating effectively with parents and listening to their concerns.

“I am concerned that there seems to be a never ending list of meetings and panels, when in fact the children’s disability will not change and what parents need are assurances that the support is there and available.”

Norfolk County Council said: “All children that need overnight respite will continue to receive this when these changes happen in March. We’ve been listening carefully to what families are telling us about the changes, which is why we extended the contract with Break for six months and why we are now investing in new en-suite bathrooms at our outstanding short-breaks unit at Marshfields, which is also in King’s Lynn.

“We want to work with families using Marshfields and staff to agree how best these improvements are delivered.

“Break wants to open Morley House as a new residential children’s home for King’s Lynn, which will help us to look after more children with the highest needs in Norfolk, closer to their families and friends. At the same time, we want to expand the range of short-breaks for children with disabilities across Norfolk, and the use of personal budgets, in line with national policy.”

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