Hereford & Worcester

Hereford respite care centre closure criticised by family

Gwen and Fergus and their father Ben holding a "Save No 1 Ledbury Road" banner Image copyright Melissa Boyle
Image caption The centre was initially earmarked for closure in March 2016, but given a year-long extension

The closure of a respite care centre will leave "gaping holes in provision" a family has said.

No 1 Ledbury Road in Hereford is due to close on March 31.

Alternatives proposed by Herefordshire Council are further away, a family says, which will eat into short breaks for relatives with disabilities.

The council said it has commissioned a number of new respite services "as a single Hereford-based centre wasn't suitable for everyone".

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It was initially earmarked for closure in March 2016, but given a year-long extension.

Melissa Boyle's son Fergus, 14, and daughter Gwen, 13, both use the council centre, which is delivered by Wye Valley NHS Trust.

Both have Cockayne Syndrome - a rare genetic disorder which degenerates the body and shortens young lives.

They are both visually and hearing-impaired, cannot eat anything that poses a risk of choking and need help to wash, while Gwen's sleep is often broken by seizures.

'Quality of life'

Mrs Boyle and husband Ben, who run The Velvet Bean chocolate shop in Ledbury, split their care between them.

Mrs Boyle said the new options for respite include a centre in Worcester, while another in Presteigne, Wales, would mean a journey of two hours from the family home.

"There are gaping holes in this provision," she said.

"What quality of life does it give them if need to spend hours in the car and then to get up at the crack of dawn to go to school the next day when they are away from home for one night for a short break?"

In a statement, Herefordshire Council said it had worked closely with "families, professionals and providers".

Families unhappy with the services available can take a direct payment instead to "allow them to access services they feel better suit their needs", the council added.

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