Girl who can’t walk or talk to be denied care as budget cuts

A 19-YEAR-OLD girl with severe mental health difficulties - totally dependent on help and assistance because she cannot walk or talk - will not be accommodated at a Londonderry adult training centre because of budget cuts, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has told the Assembly.

The Londonderry MLA said she was contacted by the girl’s mother who said she could not understand how support made available to her through her childhood was now going to be withdrawn once she had reached adulthood.

The Sinn Féin MLA was speaking at the Stormont Assembly during a debate on Special Needs services for young people and adults.

She said: “I received an e-mail at the weekend from a single parent who is the mother of a 19-year-old daughter with severe mental and physical impairment.

“Her daughter is totally dependent on help and assistance because she cannot walk or talk. She needs 24/7 care. With regard to the Member’s point about transition from childhood into adulthood and the wrap-around services that need to be in place, I was concerned when that mother told me that, because of budget cuts, her daughter would not now find a place in Maybrook Adult Training Centre.”

She added: “That mother cannot understand how support that was available to her daughter during childhood can be withdrawn in adulthood.

She called on “the Minister should take a robust attitude towards examining and exploring that matter further.”

Meanwhile speaking during the same debate Foyle SDLP Mark H. Durkan praised local day care centres whilst warning growing demand was putting increasing pressure on staff.

“Day care centres provide an excellent service and are staffed by industrious, dedicated and caring individuals; I am thinking of the Evergreen and Oak Tree centres in my constituency. However, the demand for places in those centres is growing and cannot be met,” he told the Assembly.

He added: “Our goal is to have an education system in which children, young people, parents and carers work as partners with schools and education authorities to secure the best educational outcomes for young people with special needs.

“There should be a statutory obligation on the two main Departments - Education and Health - to plan for those over school-leaving age, and assess the options for post-19 care provision, including the number of places available in day care centres,” he said.

A motion was passed that the Assembly support a review of community services, including respite services, that are currently available for young people and adults with special needs after they leave school.