Response to Focus House and Learning Disability Respite Relocation Consultation

READING COUNCIL has published its response to consultation feedback on the proposed relocation of mental health and learning disability services.

There was overall support for a relocation of both services, provided any changes prioritise a smooth transition for people using the services. The Council launched a six week consultation last November on proposals to relocate Focus House (at 14 & 16 Castle Crescent ), which is Reading’s only Council-run mental health accommodation service, and its Learning Disability Respite Service, based at 188 Whitley Wood Lane in south Reading. Both locations are no longer suitable or able to meet the needs of the services in the longer term. The proposals are part of a wider review across the Council’s Adult Social Care services in order to ensure services are sustainable and able to meet the need of Reading’s communities, now and in the future. The consultations sought views of carers, service users, staff and partner organisations who work with learning disabilities and mental health. The consultations specifically looked to capture what was valued and important about both services, as well as future aspirations. Feedback from the consultations included: · The majority of people supported the proposals to relocate Focus House and the Learning Disability Service from their main buildings, provided a ‘smooth transition’ was seen as a key priority and sensitivity and support was provided to those using the services. · Both services were valued and seen as essential services. · The biggest priorities for the Learning Disability respite service were: accessibility of the building, feeling safe and secure, and access to support. Additional suggestions highlighted the importance of providing 24 hour care, a more homely environment and on the service providing greater flexibility. · For Focus House most people said they preferred a ‘mixed model’ for the service, which involves a main accommodation base, combined with a number of smaller, more independent supported living accommodation. The main base would provide onsite access to staff, as well as convenient access to other types of support and activities to aid a person’s wellbeing. · Key priorities for the Focus House service were: a safe and homely environment, developing independence, and access to peer support and staff during the day. 84% agreed with the approach to work more closely with other organisations to support ‘mental wellness’ for residents. · A temporary move was less favourable for both services, but in particular for those who use the Learning Disability Respite service.

Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said:

“We are fully committed to the future of both these valued services and view this as a good opportunity to improve living facilities and quality of life for current and future residents. “The comments we received were valued and we have taken on board all of the feedback provided to us. We have not made a formal decision at this stage. We are considering all the information as part of a wider review of our buildings and we are using the consultation findings to explore the options going forward. “We fully appreciate any change for vulnerable residents can be daunting and Council officers have been working closely with the people at Focus House and at the Learning Disability Respite Service, and related service providers. “Despite the challenges we face financially as a Council, we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community and to improving the services and facilities available.”

Next Steps

No formal decisions have been taken at this stage. The Council is considering all the information alongside a wider review of its buildings, taking on board the feedback received to explore the options going forward. It is expected proposals will be shared towards the end of 2019. Everyone involved will be kept informed of future developments.



The full consultation findings can be viewed here: Learning Disability Respite Service: Focus House: