England

MS Society to give up respite sites

Three respite care centres in England for people with multiple sclerosis will no longer be run by the MS Society under plans by the charity.

It said people with MS and carers stated they wanted more individualised services and breaks where care was provided at a holiday venue.

The charity's sites in England are based in York, Horley in Surrey, and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

It was hoped services would go to an alternative provider by late 2011.

'Very highly'

Staff in the centres would move to a new provider under any agreement the charity makes, the MS Society said.

The charity said it would move to "a more personalised system of support".

The announcement follows a year-long review and consultation process, during which more than 1,600 with people with MS and their carers gave their views.

The MS Society said many people it spoke to rated the care and support they received at one of the centres "very highly".

But it added that "overwhelmingly" the people said they wanted more individualised services, more choice and holiday-style breaks.

The centres currently provide the "vast, vast majority" of the charity's services.

A spokeswoman said: "It's not about money. It's more about meeting the needs and aspirations of people with MS in response to people telling us what they want."

She said when people were asked where they would like to receive respite services, two-thirds said they would like to have them at a holiday venue with care provided.

The spokeswoman said the money saved from not spending on the centres would go to meeting the needs of people with MS in other settings.

The charity said high priorities would now be, for example, giving grants, such as for home adaptations, and providing people with "quality information" such as helping them to use budgets more effectively.

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