Respite centre axe shock

Margaret Riley House in Rosebery Avenue, South Shore

Margaret Riley House in Rosebery Avenue, South Shore

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The actions of a Blackpool charity have been called into question after the shock closure of a respite care home.

Blackpool Mencap shut down Margaret Riley House in Rosebery Avenue, South Shore, on Monday – giving some families little or no notice.

The announcement has angered Trish O’Brien, 54, whose sister Angela O’Brien, 52, is one of the people with learning difficulties who regularly use the home.

She was left furious by the notice given and has questioned the actions of Blackpool Mencap – a locally based group affiliated to the national charity.

She said: “My sister was due to go in for a couple of days of respite care in the next few weeks. But out of the blue on Monday a letter arrived saying the home was going to close.

“I received the letter on Monday, the same day the home was shutting.

“There was no indication this was going to happen.”

The home is vital to Angela, who lives with her mother in Blackpool.

“My sister lives with my elderly mother and her going into respite gives my mother a much needed break,” explained Trish, who works in the charity sector and lives in Jersey.

“She goes for two to four night once every four months or so.

“Without the respite our elderly mother would find it very difficult to continue providing the care she does.

“It’s absolutely appalling, what they have done.

“Why could they not say they would close the home at the end of the year?

“I don’t know how Angela is going to deal with the sudden change.

“I think this raises serious questions about how Blackpool Mencap is being run.”

The decision to close the home was made by Blackpool Mencap’s executive committee and not by the home’s manager or staff.

Blackpool Mencap held a meeting with those affected by the closure on Thursday and is working closely with Blackpool Council to find alternative places.

A spokesman said: “It is with much regret that Blackpool Mencap has come to the decision to close the respite service we have provided for over 25 years, most recently at Margaret Riley House.

“It is not a decision we have taken lightly but with the increased burden of new legislation and the additional cost associated with this it is no longer financially viable for the charity to provide this service.

“We will be working closely with Blackpool Social Services to arrange alternative respite care.”

Blackpool Council said it was working to find places for around a dozen people.

Coun Amy Cross, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for adult safeguarding, said:“We will be speaking to all the affected families to make sure that any concerns can be allayed and that the change can be as smooth as possible.

“Any carers affected have also been invited to talk to our designated case officer who will be able to offer support and help.”