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OTTERY: Care home battle taken to Commons

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

CARE?FIGHT: James Knight, with mother Brenda and sister Emma, made their case to MPs at the Houses of Parliament this week

CARE?FIGHT: James Knight, with mother Brenda and sister Emma, made their case to MPs at the Houses of Parliament this week

An Ottery resident fighting to secure living accommodation and expert care for her severely disabled brother has taken her case to Parliament in a desperate bid to convince MPs and local authorities of her family’s plight. Emma Knight is leading the family’s struggle to find a new home for her brother, James, who has been a resident of the Bystock Court care home in Exmouth for almost 30 years. The Devon Sheltered Homes Trust charity operates the specialist service, and care of its 35 residents is overseen by Guinness Care and Support. But under cost-cutting measures first announced earlier this year, the home is due to close. Many families are facing serious problems in finding the right kind of accommodation to provide suitable care. Mr Knight, who suffered severe brain damage soon after birth and now lives with a series of complex disabilities, requires expert care and supervision, and cannot be looked after by relatives at home. His family had tried to secure a place for him at another care home near Ottery, only to be told that Devon County Council could not afford the fees. As a result, Mr Knight will be auctioned off to bidding care providers in a process known as ‘brokerage’, which could mean relocation anywhere in the county – or possibly further afield. And in a desperate plea to make their case heard, the family travelled to Parliament this week to inform MPs of their problems. Ms Knight told Pulman’s View: “Under the brokerage system, all care homes will see James’s information – every part of his life – and bid for him. Presumably, the lowest bid will win and that is where he will have to go, but that could be anywhere in Devon. “James is a person, not a piece of meat. The way he is being treated is inhumane.” Ms Knight travelled with James and their mother, Brenda, to Westminster this week, where they met with ministers and observed a Commons debate on social care. Ms Knight added: “We realise there has to be change but we cannot say for certain whether James will settle at another care home. “By taking our case to Parliament, we wanted to give ministers the chance to put faces to the stories, rather than just seeing more statistics on a piece of paper.” Brenda Dalton, James’s mother, added: “He might not always have one-to-one care at Bystock but there is always a member of staff on duty – he has been very happy there. “Some of the other care homes we have looked at have very high fees – we are talking vast sums of money for him to stay there. “It is possible that Bystock could be saved with the right backing, but they are not interested in that. They want to find alternative premises.” The family still hopes to push local authorities towards maintaining services at Bystock, and they are due to meet with East Devon MP Hugo Swire next month to step up the campaign. A consultation on the proposals was launched in February but no final decision has yet been made about the future of the care home.


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