July 29 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The father of a profoundly disabled woman who communicates with her eyes will today listen as calls are made for the Government to step in and save her care home from closure.
Claire Wills has lived at The Drummonds Centre in Feering for 12 years, yet could be forced to move out because her home is seen as outdated.
The charity Scope, which supports disabled people, has proposed to close the properties near Colchester in favour of independent housing.
The 51-year-old’s father, Frank Lindsell, will travel to Westminster for a debate in the House of Commons today, where a minister will be forced to listen to his and other family members’ concerns.
Mr Lindsell, who is 86, said that while his daughter could not move, talk or feed herself because of cerebral palsy, she could communicate with her eyes and had a “great smile”.
He claimed that if the plans to close the home go ahead, she would be moved into a three-bed home on a housing estate and would “shrivel away”.
He said that the continuity of staff was important because of her lack of communication skills.
“You can communicate with your eyes with people who know you and can read the signals. But if there is a total stranger, she will really be without any communication at all,” he said.
During her time at the home Claire has been helped to paint and held three public art exhibitions in the past two years.
She also met her husband Stephen, who also has cerebral palsy, at the care home.
Six of the 41 people where Claire lives had expressed an interest in living independently, but the rest want to stay.
Her sister Gill Lindsell, who has set up a petition on Change.org, said the parents of those who wanted to stay were predominately in their eighties and facing very uncertain and stressful times as their sons and daughters were facing the closure of what is “a very valued and person-centred service”.
Mr Lindsell, who lives in Ely, has joined a campaign calling on the Government to step in and reverse the tide of closures of charity homes.
Labour MP for Luton Gavin Shuker has secured a debate on the impact of the closure of care homes for their residents.
Witham MP Priti Patel, who hosted a meeting on the issue in parliament, has called on Scope to start listening to the concerns of residents in the care homes it is proposing to close.
She said: “Scope need to start listening to the needs of the residents of these homes. They want to stay where they are and continue to be supported in these homes that are providing for their needs already. At a time when the Government and local authorities are taking action to offer disabled people more choice about how they should be cared for it is scandalous for Scope to think it knows best.”
A Scope spokeswoman said: “We are proposing to close Drummonds, but no decision will be made until after a consultation in two years’ time.
“We’ve made the proposals because we don’t believe the care home is good enough for disabled people in 2014. It’s a large, old fashioned 1960s care home for 40 people where it’s really difficult for residents to have privacy. It’s on the edge of a village and that makes it very difficult for people to be part of their local community.”
She said that they understood that the proposal had caused a lot of anxiety for residents and their families, adding: “We are committed to talking to residents and families, and have been doing so since October last year, so that they have the opportunity to share their views.”