A carers’ charity claims cuts are being made to special needs provision for some of the island’s most severely disadvantaged.
In a letter to Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw, John Sheppard, acting chairman of Aggrieved Carers Helping Each Other (ACHE), has branded a proposed five-year strategy for adults with learning difficulties as a ‘work of fantasy’.
And he has launched a campaign to put pressure on the government to enact the long-overdue Equality legislation - claiming continued direct negotiation is ‘pointless’.
The move came as the Department of Social Care apologised after withdrawing three days of one-to-one provision from Mr Sheppard’s partner’s half brother who was born with Down’s Syndrome and has autism and needs round-the-clock care.
The family said they were shocked to discover this month that having already lost one day of his four days a week of one-to-one care, a further two days had been taken away, with one carer now in charge of him and another client at the Eastcliffe Resource Centre.
Mr Sheppard: ‘We were not informed and had no input. The disruption this has caused is immense. The department has failed in its duty of care,’ he said.
But in a letter, the department apologised ‘for a failure on our behalf’ and reinstated the one-to-one provision.
The Department of Social Care launched its second five year strategy for adults with a learning disability in July, with a six-week public consultation ending on September 6.
Faced with the challenge of increasing demand for services and pressure on budgets, the strategy recommends future funding should be directed away from institutional care and towards supported living in the community.
It says money saved from rebalancing residential services will be used to expand the range of accommodation and support available.
But Mr Sheppard said the document was a ‘work of fantasy’. He told the Examiner: ‘They talk about rebalancing but it’s not - they are simply cutting the services. The service was always under-funded. But it’s now being turned into a service that manages people by containment rather than attempting to give them a meaningful life.’
Assistant director of adult social services Cath Hayhow said: ‘The department has acknowledged his complaint and have entered into discussions with him.
‘We are currently collating responses to the formal public consultation on the learning difficulties strategy.
‘With regard to reviewing individual’s care needs we have a responsibility to make sure we review needs of our clients on a regular basis.’
Mr Sheppard said he believe the root cause of the problems was the government’s failure to implement Equality legislation. ‘Continued direct negotiation with government is pointless and the only route open to the care community and the third sector is to take direct and public action.’
He said that if MHKs didn’t support their cause, then they would field candidates at the next election who would.
Chief Minister Allan Bell has said he hopes to see ‘real progress’ on the introduction of equality legislation by the end of the year.
He wants to speed up the progress of an Equality Bill, based on the UK Equality Act 2010, following the revelation in May this year that lesbian couple Laura Cull and Kira Izzard were refused the tenancy of a flat in Ramsey because of their sexual orientation.