Lifeline Morley House in King’s Lynn set to close
- Credit: Archant
Parents of special needs children have been told a lifeline offering them respite care is set to close.
Morley House in King's Lynn provides regular weekend breaks and midweek boarding for 25 children and young people with special needs.
Watchdog Ofsted rates its service, which is run by Norfolk-based charity Break, as 'good'.
But now Norfolk County Council, which funds the children's stays, has told devastated parents it will not renew its contract with Morley House when it ends in August.
A spokesman at County Hall said: 'We want to ensure that children with disabilities can make the most of the range of community based support that is available, so that we can ensure that residential short-breaks provision is focused on children with the most complex needs and those who are at risk of coming into our care.
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'We currently run and commission two separate short-breaks homes in King's Lynn – Marshfields and Morley House. We have decided that, from the end of August, we will no longer commission places at Morley House. Mid-week boarding that is accessed by some children will also cease.
'We are working with Break, who run Morley House, to see how we can continue to use the home for children with the greatest need.
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'We understand that some children and families will be disappointed with this decision but we have to use our resources in the most efficient way to ensure that we are able to support as many children as possible with additional needs. We will assess all of the children affected to ensure that they continue to receive the most appropriate support.'
Charity Break, which runs Morley House, near the town centre, said: 'We understand that, due to increasing pressure on social care budgets, NCS has concluded that they wish to cease commissioning the boarding service from the end of the summer term 2018 and cease the short break service from the end of the school summer holidays.
'We are very sad about this and will do all we can to support families affected through the transition phase. We hope that we can continue to support children and families through the provision of a new residential children's home for children with complex needs.'
Parents tell of their shock
Parents say they do not know how they will cope without respite care offered by Morley House.
One said: 'Morley House has been a lifeline for our family. It is the place our older daughter is happiest, and is the only place (other than at home under our constant supervision) that we feel she is safe. The staff understand her needs and for our family, it is the only time we feel able to relax. For her, it is a time of opportunities, taking part in activities in the house or out in the community that we cannot provide at home. Their sensory room, built in trampoline, touch screen floor computer, long corridor to travel back and forth down all fill her with joy. Taking these opportunities from her will have a negative impact on her life.'
One mother told us: 'I'm a single mum with a complex needs child and my own health issues. My daughter currently goes to Morley house for overnight respite and absolutely loves it there. I've just learned that Morley House will no longer do overnight from August 2018 as their contract hasn't been renewed. I have no family or friends to help with my child. This is an absolute disgrace.'
Another parent said: 'My son attended Morley for seven years, it was not just about us receiving respite, a chance to catch up on sleep, spend quality time with our other child, have a break from the stresses and strains of caring for a severely learning disabled child, catch up with friends it was also about our son having some independent time from home, learning to be with others, other children like him and adults who would care and support and give him small steps in independence. the staff at Morley have training and skills and a love for their job like no others I have ever met. It is a priceless resource in so many ways.'
Another parent said: 'Without this service we will be left with no practical support. It has been recognised that not only is my daughter very challenging but the effects that this has on my other children is drastic.
'My daughter has complex needs - autism, adhd, learning difficulties and epilepsy - and is extremely demanding day and night. With out the services of Morley we would struggle as a family and feel that this is so unfair. We rely on this service to recharge our batteries and my biggest concern is that my 10 year old will suffer if it's withdrawn.'