A CHEADLE mother has expressed her concerns that a day centre which offers her son respite care may close.
Lee Lawton, aged 25, has severe learning difficulties and his mum Lynn fears that, due to the current consultation taking place regarding the Moorlands Day Services, in Leek, where Lee attends, that it is going to close.
The consultation is being carried out by Staffordshire County Council.
The mum-of-three said: “Lee has been attending the centre for six years and loves it there.
“The activities he does through the centre he can only do with their support as he needs one-toone care for his own safety.
“They help him with all his care needs such as feeding and going to the toilet. He will feed himself but he needs coaxing.
“He can’t talk – he only says a few single words. I’ve always wanted him to say his own name but he can’t.
“He makes certain sounds and gestures to communicate and the staff at the centre know what these are.
“Marie Bourne at the centre mainly looks after Lee and she knows him well. Without that one to one day care, he would not be able to go to the centre.” Lee, who also has epilepsy, attends the Moorlands Day Services five days a week and is picked up by a bus and dropped back home at his family’s farm near Cheadle.
Lynn said: “His face lights up when the bus arrives each morning.
He has made friends on that bus and the staff and bus driver do a fantastic job – it’s a happy bus.
“The staff at the day centre are absolutely fantastic. With seeing my son every day they have found what his special needs are and it is important to have stability from the centre.
“If Lee had these activities provided all over the place and by different people, he could get stressed out by the change.
“The council say they are carrying out this consultation to modernise the service. That is all fair and well but these services need to be done from a base such as the centre.
“The centre is great for helping Lee with everyday skills from cutting a sandwich to throwing and catching a ball.
“Since he has been looked after by Marie, he has now come out of nappies.” Lynn said that she attended a meeting last week that was held regarding the current consultation process over the centre. She said: “We were basically told that there will be another meeting on September 6 where we will be able to discuss our concerns.
“There is a lot of people worried about this. There is also a concern that there are some centre users who have special needs but don’t have anyone to speak for them.” Lynn added: “When Lee first started attending the centre in Leek, it was all hustle and bustle but now there’s not much at all.
“A lot of people have dropped off, perhaps tried new ways. But for people like my son, this service works.
“However, a lot of the services they used to provide within the centre are no longer there such as a speech therapist and a physiotherapist.” Lynn said that she hopes the council will listen to what comes from the consultation about the centre. She said: “They need to listen to the parents and carers as we know our children better than anyone.
“We know what they do like, don’t like and what upsets them. Lee doesn’t have any respite care from anywhere else.
Lee lives at home with us and this care gives me the opportunity to do the shopping and have some time to myself.
“I would not want such care to be carried out within our own home as that would be invading our privacy.
“There is also the social aspect for Lee in attending the centre. He absolutely loves people.” Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, said the council was committed to meeting the modern day needs of all members of Staffordshire’s community.
Robbie said: “As a county council we are absolutely determined to support all residents in our community to live as fulfilling and independent lives as possible.
“We recognise that different people need different levels of support. This (consultation) is a huge opportunity to ensure we make the right choices for the people who use our services, their families and their carers.
“It is these people who will really help us transform options for support to ensure they meet the needs and wishes of all of the people who use them.” Mr Marshall further told the Post & Times: “Money is very much secondary in my mind. The key is the outcome for people with learning disabilities.
“At this stage I can absolutely promise that we have not made a decision and this is not just ‘going through the motions’. I want to listen to people involved and I will be attending at least one public meeting in each district when the consultation gets under way.”