Girtrell Court – Carers Condemn the Council’s Alternatives

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Following meetings with Wirral Councils Adult Social Services, carers of loved ones who use Girtrell Court have said that should Girtrell Court close, the alternatives being offered are simply not suitable.

Mr Peter Linnane, whose son Mark uses Girtrell Court has carried out research into the list of the alternative providers and has made his findings known to the Council. (That email is appended)

Mr Linnane said, “It’s clear that Council Officers in their haste to save £155,000 have not taken into account fully the needs of the users and families of Girtrell Court and are asking elected members to make a decision on this, based purely on a report from the Director of Adult Social Services which is clearly skewed to support closure.

“It’s important that Councillors fully understand the devastating impact that closure would have on families who provide day to day care for their loved ones and understand their needs, as do the caring staff at Girtrell Court, I sincerely hope they will think again and keep Girtrell Court open.

Local Councillor Chris Blakeley, who with colleagues Cllr Bruce Berry and Cllr Steve Williams set up the Friends of Girtrell Court group said, “the findings of Mr Linnanes research is damning and demonstrates without doubt that the Councils proposal to close Girtell Court is nothing more than a penny pinching ill thought out and ill-conceived plan that attacks some of the most vulnerable people in our society and the Council should be ashamed for even putting this proposal on the table.

“In December we offered to work with the Leader of the Council to try to find a solution that would meet the Councils and the users needs, that offer remains open and we are keen to explore any alternatives, including a like for like provision in perhaps a smaller modified Council building.

Local Councillor Bruce Berry, who serves on the Councils Families and Wellbeing Committee said, “I am aware of the great work done at Girtell Court by professional and caring staff.    This should not be about money, this is about people, people who this Council should be supporting, not throwing them into the unknown of the independent sector, who it appears, cannot provide the level of support that is needed.”

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EMAIL TO WIRRAL COUNCIL FROM CARERS STARTS

“Carers, service users and Councillors are being told that if Girtrell Court closes then there is suitable alternative provision in the private sector. Councillors will make a decision on the understanding that this is true and has been validated.

I’ve done an analysis (based on the hand outs from the meeting on 22 January) of the alternatives and they are as follows:

1) Holidays – an option but not a buildings based respite service which most people will want (even if you say let’s wait for the 1 to 1s)

2) Supported living – an option but most people won’t want other people in their home while they’re away (even if you say let’s wait for the 1 to 1s)

3) Elderly people’s homes – there are 15 listed, less than half have passed the CQC test recently, hardly anyone who uses Girtrell Court is of this age or would want to be placed in an OAP Home. I worry that they have been added to bulk up the number of options. Only one caters specifically for people with Learning Disabilities.

4) Buildings based respite – there are 10 listed. Only 6 have passed the CQC test recently. One has no vacancies and only deals with Autism. The others are old victorian buildings on many floors, none of which are fully accessible for people with mobility problems. This is turning the clock back 25 years to Arrowe Hall which was deemed unsuitable for those very reasons. I visited one of these properties a few years ago when we were assessing alternatives to Maplehome and it was a warren of narrow dark corridors with steps around every turn and access for wheelchairs through the backyard and then the kitchen.

I really don’t understand why you would want the alternative offerings to be kept in the shadows.

Councillors need to be fully informed before they make their decisions.   Councillors won’t know the findings of the 1 to 1s when they make their decision.   They will make their decision on the basis of the information provided to them by Graham at a generic high level. They will not drill down to see the detail as I have done.   They won’t look at these places as a carer would.

Nobody could describe what’s on offer as “suitable quality alternatives” particularly those with mobility issues, I.E.. nearly half of the current service users at Girtrell Court.  A good Council would plan for all the carers/ service users wishing to retain their building based respite service when they have their 1 to 1s. They would not plan for them all to want something else!”

End of email

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