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Plans to axe unit 'borders on cruelty'

PUBLISHED: 11:36 09 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:20 05 July 2010

PLANS to close the residential unit at the Lothingland Community Unit, at Oulton, will also hit the respite care offered at the site, it was claimed this week.

PLANS to close the residential unit at the Lothingland Community Unit, at Oulton, will also hit the respite care offered at the site, it was claimed this week.

Parents and carers of people living at the complex have been contacting The Journal to express their concerns.

As part of a Government initiative to improve the lives of people with disabilities, and to give them more independence, units like the one at Lothingland are being phased out and residents will be housed in their own homes with the support services they need.

Gill and Alan Moore, said they had been reading the reports of the closure with great sadness.

“It has been suggested that it would be good for those living at the unit to be tenants in their own homes, but some of the residents have no conception of financial matters, tenancies etc. In fact many of them are unable to feed, dress, wash or toilet themselves.

“For these people it seems to us that the decision to move them from the safe environment which is their homes and their familiar carers and friends, to a strange place and unfamiliar people borders on the cruel and inhumane,” said Mrs Moore.

In addition to the residential units closing, Mr and Mrs Moore have been informed that the respite unit, which is a life line parents with children still living at home, is also earmarked for closure.

“When that happens those of us who access Lothingland for respite will probably be transferred to other respite units such as John Turner House. At the moment there are five beds at John Turner House and we have been informed that this will be increased to seven, but we doubt that this will make up the shortfall caused by the closure of Lothingland,” said Mr Moore.

The couple said they “sincerely hope and pray” that someone somewhere will wake up to what is happening and try to reverse the process.

Suffolk County Council member Graham Newman, portfolio holder for adult and community services, said: “We are well aware of just how important respite care is for many families. As the Lothingland site is closed, then we will offer similar respite breaks in other settings. It is still very early in our planning for replacement care, but we are considering if and how we can make use of existing facilities at John Turner House, in Lowestoft, which are somewhat under-used at the moment.

“We will keep everyone informed and we hope to involve as many people as possible as we develop definite alternatives.”

Lowestoft and District Mencap Society's executive committee and members have also expressed their concern.

“A regular routine in their bungalows with staff who know and regularly care for them is essential for them and their parents peace of mind,” said the committee chairman Mary Gill.

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