SER­VICE CLOS­ING CAUSES ‘CHAOS’

Staff short­age saw it close – and fam­i­lies fear it could hap­pen again

Bray People - - FRONT PAGE - BY DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

TWENTY fam­i­lies in north Wick­low were left high and dry in re­cent days when the START day ser­vice in Bray, which ac­com­mo­dates adults with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, closed tem­po­rar­ily with less than a day’s no­tice.

Rel­a­tives of clients at the ser­vice, which is man­aged by Sun­beam House Ser­vices, were no­ti­fied on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon last, that the ser­vice would be un­able to con­tinue for more than a week due to staff short­ages.

The chair­man of the board of direc­tors con­firmed to the Sun­beam House Ser­vices Fam­ily Ad­vo­cacy Group by email that staff short­ages were the rea­son for the sud­den clo­sure and that it was im­pos­si­ble to hire staff at such short no­tice.

Fam­i­lies say they are now con­cerned that a prece­dent has been set and that fur­ther sud­den clo­sures could hap­pen at any time.

TWENTY fam­i­lies in North Wick­low were left high and dry in re­cent days when the START day ser­vice in Bray, which ac­com­mo­dates adults with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, closed with less than a day’s no­tice.

Rel­a­tives of clients at the ser­vice, which is man­aged by Sun­beam House Ser­vices, were no­ti­fied on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon last, that the ser­vice would be un­able to con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture due to staff short­ages.

‘I re­ceived a phonecall at 3.30 p.m. on Wed­nes­day from the man­ager to say that there would be no day ser­vice for the rest of the week, for the fol­low­ing week and that the ser­vice would re­sume after the an­nual hol­i­days on Au­gust 21,’ said a con­cerned par­ent.

‘ This has thrown us into chaos and for many, our chil­dren pick up on that chaos. It has had a knock on ef­fect for many peo­ple who have com­mit­ments while their child is at the day ser­vice.’

In an emailed re­sponse to the Sun­beam House Ser­vices Fam­ily Ad­vo­cacy Group, chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors Donal O’Brien apol­o­gised for the tem­po­rary clo­sure.

‘We do not have the re­sources to have a fall back on con­tin­gency staffing on the scale that is nec­es­sary nor was it pos­si­ble to hire in staff at such short no­tice. The de­ci­sion to sus­pend the ser­vice was taken as the only avail­able op­tion in this case,’ Mr O’Brien’s email ex­plained.

There is now fear amongst fam­i­lies that a prece­dent has been set and that fur­ther tem­po­rary clo­sures at short no­tice could hap­pen.

‘My big­gest con­cern is that this is now a prece­dent and that, if there is a short­age of staff for any rea­son, that the re­sponse will be to just close the ser­vice. No al­ter­na­tive was given and there was no at­tempt made to find any so­lu­tion to the staff short­age,’ the par­ent said.

The Sun­beam House Ser­vices Fam­ily Ad­vo­cacy Group has out­lined that this de­ci­sion has left fam­i­lies ‘ex­tremely dis­tressed and con­cerned’ and that ‘ keep­ing their fam­ily mem­ber home has put ser­vice users and fam­i­lies un­der enor­mous pres­sure’.

Wick­low TD Pat Casey has called for ‘an im­me­di­ate and emergency re­sponse’ from Sun­beam House Ser­vices and the HSE.

He said that the de­ci­sion to shut START a day after the de­ci­sion was made re­flects a ‘com­plete fail­ure to fam­i­lies by man­age­ment and the HSE’.

‘Ser­vice users and their fam­i­lies have been left high and dry with no con­tin­gency plan in place as of yet,’ said Deputy Casey.

He said that the sud­den clo­sure was ‘ the worst pos­si­ble out­come for th­ese hard pressed peo­ple who re­quire a day ser­vice’.

Deputy Casey in­sisted that all 20 af­fected fam­i­lies should be con­tacted im­me­di­ately re­gard­ing ar­range­ments for a day ser­vice for their loved ones.

‘ Th­ese ser­vice users need rou­tine in their care plan and this clo­sure and the way it has been an­nounced is a to­tal dis­grace that war­rants in­ves­ti­ga­tion,’ he said.

Mean­while, an Ark­low-based mem­ber of the Fam­ily Ad­vo­cacy Group said that a sim­i­lar clo­sure took place in the south Wick­low town last year which, fam­i­lies were in­formed at the time, was due to a lack of fi­nan­cial re­sources.

‘I was grate­ful when the fam­i­lies got to­gether and formed the SHS Ad­vo­cacy Group; that group gives a united voice for all the par­ents and only for that group par­ents in Ark­low would be not be aware of the dif­fi­cul­ties cur­rently hap­pen­ing in Bray. Sim­i­lar hap­pened in Ark­low last Au­gust/ Septem­ber. There are ex­cel­lent staff but they need funds and ma­te­ri­als to do the job. The HSE needs to hold the ser­vice providers be­ing pro­vided with public funds more ac­count­able,’ the mem­ber said.

The HSE and Sun­beam House Ser­vices had yet to re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment at the time of go­ing to press.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.