£240,000 worth of Investment into the Disabled Children’s Residential Short Break Centres
For the last few months I, the Cabinet and Cornwall Council has had to make some difficult decision around the disabled children’s residential short break centres. This has resulted in two centres – St Christopher’s and Lowenna Redwing – will be decommissioned this September. It was a very hard decision, but one that had to be made to help tackle the huge budgetary pressures; to make the remaining money go further, which will help more families.
From this difficult decision, Cornwall Council has invested a large amount of money into Doubletrees and Poppins disabled children’s residential short break centres. The total investment in the two centres was £240,000. This year 146 young people are currently using the residential short break units.
On Friday, I visited both centres. Firstly to Doubletrees and then to Poppins to help celebrate its re-opening. For Doubletrees it is hard to do anything with the actual structure of a building as in Doubletrees’ case, but the work carried out inside is amazing from what was before. A lot of thought has gone into making Doubletrees a better place. Speaking to staff and families, they agree too.
The work at Doubletrees the improvements include the refurbishment of the lounge area, the creation of a new play area to the back with a range of interactive play equipment and the refurbishment of bedrooms as well as redecoration and new furniture.
Furthermore, new equipment, toys and communication aides have also been purchased for the other the settings to support the needs of the children who attend and to enable their stays to be fun and to better support their particular individual needs. So it is not only Doubletrees and Poppins who have seen investment.
Being impressed with the work carried out at Doubletrees, I was simply amazed at the work that has been undertaken as Poppins. They changes are quite simply staggering. Unlike Doubletrees who had the work carried out whilst open, apart from a two-week period, it was necessary to close Poppins for longer.. It is even more impressive when you take into account all the changes were carried out in seven-weeks.
The investment at Poppins – which currently provides services for children and young people who have a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Condition – has been used to provide a fully accessible bedroom, wet room and to level the flooring in the lounge so that this is fully accessible and inclusive for young people with a range of needs. There has also been improved access to the garden and sensory room.
During my visits I also had the opportunity to spend time with staff from both centres. It is always good to spend time with staff, as you get to hear the passion they have for the service and how they want to make the service better. These centre staff are a credit to the service and Council and they should be rightly proud of their achievements.
The short break services include day opportunities, activity days, family fun days, group/peer opportunities, youth opportunities, family based short break support and specific individual bespoke support packages, as well as the overnight residential short stay breaks are just some of the services Cornwall Council provides as part of £10.5 million on services to support children with special educational needs and disabilities.
I am pleased Cornwall Council remains one of the highest spending authorities in the country supporting this group. In total 585 disabled children and young people received short break services from the Council.