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Study finds lack of services in region

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THERE are a lack of suitable services in Dumfries and Galloway to meet the population of young people with complex disabilities, an independent study has found.

Children’s charity Action for Children was commissioned by the region’s Integration Joint Board (IJB) to look at current arrangements for short break provisions for children, young people and their families.

The consultation was requested to capture the views and voices of children, young people and their parents/carers from across the region who currently or have previously accessed short break services at Acorn House respite centre, near Kingholm Quay.

Staff and other professionals were also invited to participate.

The final report states that Acorn House short breaks play an essential role in maintaining the wellbeing of eligible families, but there is also a need for service provision across Dumfries and Galloway beyond overnight short breaks.

It states that an outcomes focused service with a clearer multi-agency approach would better meet the needs of individual service users, and that Acorn House would benefit from independent registration with the Care Inspectorate.

Officers from Action for Children handed over their report to the IJB on Wednesday.

IJB chairman Andy Ferguson said: “We were delighted to welcome Action for Children to our meeting, and very pleased to have them present their report.

“Following the presentation, the board agreed to instruct the chief officer of the IJB to commission a series of options taking on board these findings, to be brought back to the IJB for consideration within that context.

“In the interim, until those options are considered, there will be no change to the existing model of service.”

Welcoming the conclusions of the report, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth warned that the IJB should put an end to any speculation that Acorn House should be closed and instead commit to enhancing services there and across the region.

He said: “Families who use Acorn House and staff who work there have been left in limbo for two years due to the uncertainty over the future of the facility and there is no doubt that during this time services have slowly eroded there.

“The report is clear in its conclusion that services provided by Acorn House are essential. A firm commitment should now be given that Acorn House will remain open, that it will be at the centre of the short term breaks service going forward and that families will shape what those services should be.

“The report does give a number of recommendations on how current services could be improved and that needs to be the focus, not cutting services.”

  • MSP Colin Smyth is pictured above with families who use Acorn House
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