Oct 25 2012 by Caitlin Black, Harrow Observer
A HOME for people with learning disabilities, which was recently refurbished at a cost of £96,000, is earmarked to lose some of its services and parents claim it is the first step to closing it altogether.
Parents of users of Bedford House, in James Bedford Road, Pinner, are calling on Harrow Council to be frank about the future of the centre after the authority started consulting on proposals to relocate its respite and day care services.
The changes are part of an overhaul of adult social care which aims to encourage more people with learning disabilities to live independently.
Robbie Hamblin, who suffers from severe learning disabilities, has used the day centre most days since he was 19 years old.
His mother Daphne Hamblin, 74, of St Thomas Drive, Hatch End, who has recently been awarded an MBE for her outstanding volunteering work, said: “I am furious. The council cannot plan to close such a significant place when it has just been refurbished. My son loves it there, he’ll be devastated if it closes.
“What I am most worried about is the fact that the council is dealing with it in an underhand fashion. They are going to close little bits of the house until there is nothing left of it and then they will have good reason to close it.”
Anne Jee, 63, of Chestnut Drive, Harrow Weald, has been taking her daughter, Alison, to Bedford House for more than 18 years. Her 37-year-old daughter is a wheelchair user and can’t speak.
Mrs Jee said: “It is such a shame they want to move the centre. It would be very upsetting to have a big change after all these years. The centre gives parents a break. We are all getting much older now as parents so we don’t want to be travelling long distances to leave our children in day centres.
“I appreciate that the council needs to cut spending, but doing this to Bedford House doesn’t help save money considering they have just refurbished the whole place.”
More than 30 people attended a recent briefing by Harrow Council about the proposals, the second of its kind.
The plans are to relocate the respite centre, which has nine beds, and the day service for up to nine people, while the 11 long term residential beds will remain.
The proposals are part of a wider review by the council of residential services for people with learning disabilities in order to increase efficiency and save up to £1million over two years. The review will return to cabinet in February following consultation.
Harrow Council portfolio holder for adults social care, health and wellbeing, councillor Margaret Davine, said: “There are no plans to close Bedford House although we are currently consulting with the families of residents on proposed changes. We are looking at the possibility of providing respite and day care services separately from the residential care. Residential care will remain at Bedford House. We are considering this as we feel it may be better for the permanent residents of Bedford House.
“This is why we have spent £96,000 on renovating the building to allow residential care to continue but only after we carefully consider feedback from our consultation, which will run until December 12.
“Supporting and protecting people who are most in need is at the heart of everything that we do and we believe that by improving the way services work, and making them more efficient, we can enhance the outcomes that they are able to achieve and make them more financially sustainable.”