Anger over Hampshire respite care homes closure plan

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Sunbeams in AldershotImage source, Google
Image caption,
Sunbeams in Aldershot could close under the proposals

Parents of children with disabilities say they are "devastated" over plans to close two residential respite care homes in Hampshire.

The county council has launched a public consultation on its proposals for Merrydale in Winchester and Sunbeams in Aldershot.

Campaigners have described the services as a "lifeline" for families.

The council said it wants to redesign the overnight services in a bid to provide a "wider range of options".

It said it was aiming to develop a "less institutionalised approach" to respite care with services that could give users more choice.

Image source, Melissa Jones
Image caption,
Melissa Jones' 16-year-old son Chris stays at Sunbeams at least once a week

Proposals include offering family breaks, overnight stays with specialist foster carers and home care breaks with a carer staying overnight in the family home.

'Devastated and disgusted'

Melissa Jones' 16-year-old son, Chris, who has autism, severe learning disabilities and epilepsy, and needs two-adult supervision at all times stays at Sunbeams at least once a week.

She said: "For him Sunbeams is the only place he can interact with other children - it's a lifeline. Calling the homes institutionalised is a draconian way of putting it."

Parent Jill Harris said she was "devastated and disgusted" by the proposals and described the respite days as "gold dust" and "life-changing" for her 15-year-old son who is autistic and their family.

A consultation on the proposals runs until 2 October.

The authority said if the decision is taken to close Merrydale and Sunbeams, families would be supported to explore alternative options.

If they close, both sites would be sold.

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