Hunston mother ‘shocked’ at lack of services for adults with disabilities in Chichester

Megan Cooper from Hunston has to travel to a day centre in Worthing
Megan Cooper from Hunston has to travel to a day centre in Worthing

A Hunston mother has said she is ‘shocked’ at the lack of services for adults with learning disabilities in West Sussex.

Emma Taylor has realised the extent of the issue since her daughter Megan Cooper, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and severe learning disabilities, left school earlier this year.

Megan Cooper from Hunston

Megan Cooper from Hunston

For 17 years, Megan attended Fordwater School in Summersdale Road, Chichester, and ‘loved every minute of it’, her mother said.

After she left, Emma had hoped she could find a day centre for adults with learning disabilities for Megan to attend nearby three days a week.

But instead, Megan has ended up travelling to Worthing two days a week to a day centre run by Scope – with the county council paying almost £100 a day for a taxi to take her there.

Emma said: “We were spoilt with children’s services. You think it’s going to carry on and it really doesn’t. There’s nothing for adults. It’s shocking.

“They wake up at 18 and everything has changed – but nothing has changed.

“I’ve had to fight for everything again.”

Emma said the service in Worthing was ‘perfect’ for Megan’s needs but said: “I would love Megan to be nearer. It’s horrible her being in Worthing, I feel physically sick every time she goes.”

The number of day centres for people with learning disabilities in West Sussex was reduced by the county council last year, as part of their modernisation plans for adult social care services.

At the time, the council said there would be ‘exactly the same levels of service but delivered in fewer buildings’.

As part of the plans, the Wrenford Centre in Chichester’s Terminus Road, a day centre for people with disabilities, is due to close next year.

It will move to the Judith Adams and Chestnuts, where the services will remain separate despite using the same buildings, the county council said.

Emma said she was told this service would not be suitable for Megan and she agreed – saying that being around elderly people would not be appropriate for Megan who is 19 but has a mental age of 12 months and enjoys activities like listening to nursery rhymes.

But Emma was frustrated that the county council had nothing else to offer her, adding: “It’s not that they are being petty or picking on me, it’s just not there.”

She said that, rather than spend money ferrying people like Megan elsewhere in the county: “They need to spend money on services and they will save themselves money.”

However she stressed that there were other people out there who were ‘worse off’ than she was. “I’m one of the fortunate ones and that’s scary,” she said.

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Following the decision by the cabinet member for adults and health in October 2018 the county council is redesigning the way it provides the adults’ in-house day services.

“The new model is designed to better serve the local population based on the needs of individuals and not by customer groups.

“There are no plans to reduce levels of service as part of this change.

“The county council is currently changing the services in Chichester and Bognor to meet the expectations of our customers.

“Where arrangements have had to be made for people to attend services that are some distance away – as in this case – these will be reviewed with a view to offering a more local service.

“Following this work, there will be a new ‘day opportunity’ service which will offer a clear focus on supporting people to connect to their local community and increase their confidence in using what is on offer where they live.

“Whilst the aim is to move people from formal social care provision over time it is also recognised that there will be people that will require services at a day centre as well as effective and responsive respite provision to families and carers.”

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