While a decision will be made this Tuesday, 26th November at 10am, on the future of The Grange as a short term respite centre for children with disabilities, there's both confusion and annoyance on the part of parents and the Salford Council staff trade union, Salford City UNISON.
Salford Council wants to axe The Grange as a centre for short term respite care for children with disabilities – moving children as young as 14 into the current adult facility at Granville, while placing those under 14 with specialist foster carers.
Meanwhile, the Council wants to move children with longer term care needs into The Grange – which, it argues, will save money.
The fight to Save The Grange has been going on for months (see here and see here and see here) with parents arguing, amongst other things, that their children will not be safe within an adult facility and that they haven't been consulted properly. And UNISON arguing that staff at Granville haven't been consulted about the changes to that facility, while the option of privatisation of The Grange is still a possibility.
A Community Impact Assessment done by the Council agrees that "The feedback from parents on the proposals has been largely negative and they are opposed to the proposal of their children receiving respite care from either Granville or respite foster carers, rather than the current arrangement.
"Specifically parents have voiced their concerns about their children being cared for within an adult provision alongside adults" it adds "They have also expressed their concerns about how this will be monitored and inspected...There has been a petition signed by a large number of people also opposed to the proposal."
The response from the Council is that "Our plan is to support the young people together, in a separate part of the building and the building has room to enable this to happen. It also means that parents with more than one child of different ages can have respite together. The people supported at Granville have very complex needs and are vulnerable adults with functional age normally associated with that of children."
This appears to state that Granville will have adults and children in at the same time albeit slightly segregated. Which doesn't impress parent Margaret Tunnacliffe…
"In the meeting we had with John Merry and Ian Stewart, Stewart said that if the building could not be separated, or different nights could not be offered, he promised the proposals would not go through" she explains "There were other parents there who also heard him say it."
A further Council statement in a document to be presented to the Cabinet on Tuesday states that "Providing separate nights for adults and young people would be inflexible and what is being discussed is about there being a separate section of the building for the young people."
The Council reports come complete with a physical plan of rooms at Granville by Urban Vision that's for "indicative purposes only"…
Meanwhile, there are some very strange statements coming out of the Council surrounding capacity at Granville for adults that will certainly be alarming for their carers. Firstly, the Cabinet document seems to confirm that a proportion of adults will be kicked out, or `moved on', to make room for the children…
"Some of the people who attend Granville will be moving on to more independent settings as the support at Granville is now targeted to those who have complex physical behavioural and health care needs" it states "This will reduce capacity and allow us to support children from 14 years."
However, the minutes of the Adult Services Scrutiny Committee last month seem to contradict this… "Officers are currently in negations to increase the range and number of people who use Granville by working in partnership with others to attract additional income. The adult placement service is popular and cost effective…The age group of those attending Granville is being raised along with the possibility of long term care. A balance needs to be achieved between attracting more users into Granville and continuing to provide a service for those with an assessed need."
Less adult users or more adult users? Long term adult users? It's incredibly confusing and all over the place. It's even more confusing because in answer to a question raised in the document `Can the facility not be used for a mixture of long/medium term care and for respite care' the Council states "No, Ofsted would not register it as a 'catch all'. It must be registered for a specific purpose".
So, Council officers are, on one hand, reducing adult capacity at Granville to make room for children, but on the other hand looking to increase adult numbers, and looking at the possibility of long term care for adults, even though Ofsted wouldn't allow it? It's no wonder that parents of children with disabilities don't trust the Council proposals…
"Our son Nathan will not be going, and if it's not right for our daughter Lucy, who's 17, when the children and adults mix we will be taking her out of Granville" Margaret explains "Then our family will not have any respite at all. In fact we won't get any, anyway because we will have Nathan at home."
Meanwhile, the Council workers' trade union Salford City UNISON has numerous complaints about the way the proposals have been handled in regard to its members, despite the Council's Community Impact Assessment stating "There has been ongoing dialogue with Unison throughout the process and all questions raised by Unison have been answered by officers from both Children's Services and Community Health and Social Care"…
"From our perspective the Mayor hasn't properly consulted either the parents or the staff at Granville" says UNISON's Ameen Hadi "As their rep I would be aware if our members had been consulted on the potential of taking on extra work of expanding the unit and taking on more young people. But as yet, despite our request, we've had no response from management over being consulted in this area."
Back at The Grange, the option to privatise the facility is still being considered, despite the union believing it had been removed from the proposals…
"I'm horrified that the option to privatise is still on the table" Ameen adds "The Mayor needs to do a proper job and make sure all parties are properly consulted before a decision is made, and that patently has not happened with the unions or parents. The parents are still not happy but have been told that there's no option but to move to Granville. That isn't consultation, that's basically forcing them to accept this is what's going to happen, which is not the same thing."
Indeed, the Council report quotes just one parent who had toured Granville being happy with the proposals. The Council certainly didn't quote one vocal parent Margaret Tunnacliffe…
"I hope they are going to be prepared for what is going to happen by putting the proposals forward" she concludes "because something will go seriously wrong."
The Report to the Cabinet on Tuesday states "The issues raised by parents and professionals during the consultation have been responded to and parents invited to visit Granville Short Break Care Unit to reassure themselves that their concerns have been addressed. It is proposed that the implementation of the changes should start early 2014…"
The Save The Grange campaign is putting up a last ditch fight and urges people to support it.
A press release from the campaign sent out at the weekend states…"a number of concerns have arisen:
1) The report says they are still considering the option of privatisation of The Grange.
2) It claims to have consulted the Union and the staff at Granville - no such consultation has taken place.
3) It claims to have thoroughly consulted parents who have approved of the change. There have been no formal meetings with parents since the objections raised in October.
Parents and staff DO NOT want children from age 14 to go the Adult Unit Granville."
Save The Grange Public Meeting
Monday 25th November 10:30am
Salford City UNISON office
443 Chorley Road, Swinton
Phone 794 7425
Lobby of the Cabinet Tuesday 26th November from 9:30am outside the Civic Centre, Swinton.
UPDATE: 26th November 2013
Salford Mayor axes short term care at The Grange - click here