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Trust ‘committed’ to resuming full Carrickore service

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Trust ‘committed’ to resuming full Carrickore service thumbnailCONCERNED members of the Carrickore Respite Parents Group outside the Newry facility with Justin McNulty MLA.

THE Southern Trust have told Carrickore Respite Parents Group that they're committed to getting respite services running again as soon as possible.

They have also apologised to parents for not being able to offer a full overnight respite service.

Last Tuesday (September 26), the Trust's Lesley Waugh, Head of Respite Services, Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young People's Services, and Geraldine Maguire, Assistant Director of Carrickore, met with the Parents Group, along with Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty, to discuss the unavailability of respite care at the Newry facility.

It was revealed in last week's Democrat that members of the Parents Group felt they were being "blackmailed" by the Trust over a take it or leave it offer to move their children to a Banbridge respite unit.

However, the Trust have made assurances that the issues surrounding Carrickore will be resolved and that communication with parents will be vastly improved.

Speaking after the meeting, Chairman of Carrickore Respite Parents Group Jim McDonnell, said that it was a very positive discussion and he was pleased to see a well represented Trust delegation attend the meeting.

"It was fantastic that any question that was asked was answered," said Jim. "There was no conflict, no arguing and no shouting.

"It was one of those meetings where you thought there was going to be progress. We're ready to discuss the issues, move on and get moving on.

"The Trust are going to work with Carrickore to talk to parents to see when the unit will be open again.

"It's going to be a working progress and they're totally committed to Carrickore and that's good news for the parents.

"They said they're going to get respite back as soon as possible and we're willing to give it a month and see what happens."

Other positive points that came out of the meeting included an agreement that will see all communication to parents come directly from Carrickore Respite Unit and an agreement that the Parents Group can hold a 'fun day' at the unit to help ease their children back into the surroundings.

Efforts will also be made to improve communication between all parties who help care for the children, who attend Carrickore.

Jim also wished to pass on his thanks to Mr McNulty for facilitating the Parents Groups' meetings with the Trust over recent months.

A Southern Trust spokesperson told the Democrat: "A small group of Senior Trust staff led by Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young People's Services, recently met with the Carrickore Parents Group, as part of ongoing engagement with parents on this important issue.

"At the start of the meeting, Mr Morgan apologised to the parents for not being able to offer a full overnight respite service.

"There were also very useful discussions on how communication could be improved to ensure parents are kept fully updated on any developments or changes within Carrickore.

"The Trust emphasised again that it remains committed to ensuring a full resumption of Carrickore's residential services in the very near future and we hope to have the continued support of parents through this challenging period."

Speaking after the meeting Mr McNulty said: "Over recent months I have been constantly raising concerns on behalf of concerned parents who have been unable to access respite services at Carrickore.

"We have held meetings with the Southern Trust previously but unfortunately previous commitments received by the parents were not fulfilled by the Trust. The families concerned were deeply disappointed and angry, and rightly so.

"The major issue here has been the complete breakdown in communication between the Trust and the families.

"Families have been expressing their grievances for some time and those concerns have gone unresolved.  To add further insult to injury, the families were assured previously these concerns would be addressed, however they were not."

He added: "The facility is very much needed, and is very well used by over thirty different families and whilst they understand that each of them have their own individual needs from the service, they are adamant that the Trust must be flexible enough to meet the varying needs.

"[The] meeting was challenging but productive.  I believe the Trust have been left very clear of the concerns and expectations of all the families involved concerned.

"They have given very clear commitments to the families, including much improved and structured communications channels.

"I hope that we have made significant progress and will continue to liaise with both the families and the Trust to ensure issues such as this do not rise again."

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