Concerns over Bystock Court closure proposals

10:05 04 March 2014

Bystock Court residents and members of their families gather on the drive to the home this week after receiving notice of possible closure. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 4794-10-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Bystock Court residents and members of their families gather on the drive to the home this week after receiving notice of possible closure. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 4794-10-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Archant

Families with relatives at an Exmouth care home for people with learning difficulties have been left shocked after plans were announced to close it.

Bystock Court, in Old Bystock Drive, Brixington, was established in 1983, and provides a safe haven for its residents to live and work together.

However, their families now fear for their future having received a letter last week stating owners the Devon Sheltered Homes Trust and corporate trustees Guinness Care and Support were consulting on plans to close it, saying it has become financially unviable.

The letter states: “We have explored a number of different options about how the Bystock Court service could be made viable and have been unable to find a way forward that offers on-site solutions.

“Therefore the trustee of the Devon Sheltered Homes has made an in principle decision … that it should consider discontinuance of the provision of services at Bystock Court and to seek to provide services in smaller properties in the local community.”

The owners say that a consultation is now underway, and no final decisions have been made, however residents’ families fear the worst.

They say the residents see each other as a big family, and that they would not be able to cope in the community.

Christine Rawlinson, whose 48 year old daughter Jayne, who has Down syndrome, has been at Bystock for 30 years, said: “For Jayne to lose this place, and her family of 30 years, would be devastating really. Like most of the other parents we have concern for their vulnerability out in the big wide world.”

Brenda Dalton, whose son James, 45, a Bystock resident for 28 years, has learning difficulties which give him a mental age of three to four, said: “It’s their family. It’s just absolutely appalling. If they were saying to James ‘you could live here and have this facility’ you might consider it, but there isn’t anything in the community for them.”

James’ sister Emma Knight said: “It’s just appalling. If you are told you have to get out of your own home and you’ve lived there for ‘x’ number of years it will hit you hard, but James has no concept of anything else but this, and he’s told he’s got to get out and live somewhere else. It’s awful. It can’t happen.

“They all celebrate their birthdays and Christmases together up here. It’s a really nice family atmosphere. All that will go if they are out in the community. James won’t see the rest of his friends.”

Barbara Cosgrove, whose son Andrew Howard, 46, who has Down syndrome, has been at Bystock for 28 years, said: “It was total disbelief at first, and just shock. We were totally gobsmacked.

“Most of the residents need 24-hour care. Our son has no concept of money at all. Washing appears in his drawer. Three meals a day appear at the table.

“He’s got his own room here and his own bits and pieces and is quite happy. He doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

The families have set up a campaign to oppose the home’s closure, with a Facebook group at www.facebook.com/save.bystock, and an online petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/839/131/688/save-bystock-court.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Devon Sheltered Homes Trust and Guinness Care and Support, Bystock Court programme director Chris Browne said: “We want to assure everyone involved that the wellbeing of the customers remains our highest priority and that no final decision has been reached.

“We are committed to working with customers, their families and the wider community throughout the consultation and beyond to deliver the best outcome. Bystock Court has been operating for over 30 years as a residential home for people with learning disabilities and provides a good service to its customers.

“However, changes in central Government policy and local commissioning plans means that the services at Bystock are now considered out of date, with the focus now on providing a more personalised service, in smaller homes, which meet the individual’s needs.

“After much consideration it has therefore become unviable for us to continue to provide long term services at Bystock Court.

“The consultation will run for two months and until the consultation process has been completed and the final decision made, we will be unable to provide more detail on changes, if any, that may take place at Bystock Court.”

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