Care home threat fear for Sidmouth and Beer family

PUBLISHED: 10:01 05 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 18 June 2010

TWO anxious couples from Sidmouth and Beer fear an NHS run care home, where their sons live, could close after plans were announced to privatise it. The Lisburn Residential Unit for people with learning disabilities in Honiton, where both William Trevett,

TWO anxious couples from Sidmouth and Beer fear an NHS run care home, where their sons live, could close after plans were announced to privatise it.

The Lisburn Residential Unit for people with learning disabilities in Honiton, where both William Trevett, 53, and Gavin Steer, 43, are cared for is one of seven homes that could be shut down next year.

Premier Living, which runs the units for the NHS Partnership Trust, is to cease operating in March.

The service, which employs 97 staff, will now be put out to tender and it is believed it will be taken over by a private-sector provider.

William's parents, Jean and Norman, of Salters Meadow, Sidmouth, feel there has been a severe lack of communication and, if the unit is closed down, they are concerned about how William will be affected.

Their son has brain damage, is partially blind and deaf, and has the mental age of a three-year-old. He also suffers from behavioural problems and has been in care since he was five.

Jean, 82, said: "He is happy there and gets on with the staff so well. If he moved I don't know what he will do- he is inclined to turn a little bit violent if he's not settled."

Both Jean and Norman, 79, feel they have been left in the dark after the plans were announced.

"We hardly know anything," said Jean.

"It's worrying me to death. At the minute we're waiting to find out when another meeting has been arranged."

Sylvia and Ernie Steer, parents of Gavin, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound, are concerned about their son's relocation if the home closes.

The couple, of Underleys, Beer, have been told Gavin will not be moved out of Devon but Ernie said: "Devon is a big county. We've got to think about the future. We may not be able to drive and see him if he has to move."

Ernie, 73, is battling with prostate cancer and he said the ambiguity of the situation is adding to the family's stress.

He added: "We thought he was settled for life- this is the last thing we need."

Carolyn Elliott, assistant director of Devon Learning Disability Health and Social Care Partnership, said the move to privatise Premier Living is in line with a county-wide review investigating the needs of people with a learning disability.

She said: "It is now widely accepted that the NHS is not the best-equipped provider of long-term residential services for people with a learning disability."

It is possible that Lisburn could stay open but this will not be known until detailed talks have taken place with the new provider.

Carolyn also said the partnership will work closely with the residents and their families over the next few months to ensure a "smooth transition".


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