A RESPITE home for children with disabilities is set to close due to a “falling need” for its services.
Hillview Care Home in Gracemount cares for youngsters with disabilities, including those with autism and cerebral palsy, providing long-term breaks for parents and carers.
But the five-bedroom unit in Howden Hall Road is to close and will merge with the eight-bedroom Seaview Children’s Unit in Bingham.
Seaview provides shorter breaks for young people aged between five and 17 who have a learning or physical disability, giving loved ones more regular respite time.
Council chiefs insist that “self-directed support”, which allows families and carers to have more of a say on care packages, had forced a re-examination of the services on offer.
It is understood the closure of Hillview comes three years after an estimated six-figure refurbishment, which saw the addition of ceiling track hoists, wet rooms and specially adapted kitchen and living areas.
An Edinburgh city council spokeswoman said: “Demand for short-break respite care has fallen, given the introduction of ‘self-directed support’.
“This has given parents more freedom when it comes to choosing care for their children, but also means there is a need to look closely at the services offered by the council.
“Providing support for vulnerable children and their families remains of the highest importance. That is why the council has invested so heavily in facilities such as the new £2.4m Seaview Centre, but with the council’s overall budget being significantly reduced, we do need to ensure these facilities are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
But a source from within the profession expressed concerns over the move.
He said: “Around 50 children use the facilities in Seaview and, so far as I’m aware, those numbers haven’t dropped in Seaview, even if ‘self-directed support’ has been introduced. I have no idea how the council can say the need has dropped.
“There is going to be serious repercussions for children and families. It will have a knock-on effect for short-term respite care for families in desperate need.
“When they close Hillview, five beds will be lost and those five beds will be taken up at Seaview. This means there is going to be quite a loss for short-term respite, which is the focus of Seaview, [with] children at Hillview more or less long term.”
The council has insisted all staff will be “re-deployed elsewhere” but has not confirmed what will happen to the empty building.
No date for the closure has been confirmed but it is understood this could be as early as Christmas. The council said it will only close the scheme once back-up services are in place.