We need more places, says disabled teen’s mum

Bernie Scullion with her son Christopher
Bernie Scullion with her son Christopher

THE mother of a disabled Gilford teen has welcomed the news that the construction of Banbridge Health Village is to get underway soon - but she has again urged that more funding is set aside for further dedicated daycare places.

When the village opens in 2014 it will feature 46 places for those with learning disabilities and 20 for those with learning disabilties. Those who currently attend Banbridge Social Education Centre, which is currently operating out of the vacated Ballydown Primary School, will move into the village when it is complete.

But the Trust confirmed that there are no plans to increase the number of daycare places, despite the fact demand increases every year.

Bernie Scullion, mother of 16-year-old Christopher who suffers from cerebral palsy, bouts of epilepsy and visual problems, renewed her call for more investment to be made into funding daycare places for those with such complex needs as her son.

The full-time carer, who suffers from her own health problems, said she fears for Christopher’s future as he nears the age of 18, at which point he will require an adult daycare place.

“All that’s being done is moving the places that are already in the area into a shiny new building,” Bernie told the Leader. “I think it’s great that the funding has come through for the Health Village but, as I’ve said before, we need to create more places to meet demand.

“People will see this building and think it’s great and there are so many more places, but there aren’t. The reality is that there are parents whose children are leaving school but a lot of those children are not getting placed in centres which meet their needs.”

Christopher is currently a pupil at Donard School but will leave there in the next few years. He also receives daycare services from Bannvale Social Education Centre.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Trust said, “The Southern Trust will continue to work with service users and carers to assess the day care requirements of each individual based on their personal needs. The Trust continues to develop day time opportunities for adults with a disability which afford people opportunities to access community facilities and programmes that are not dependent on attending a day centre.

While the development of new day centres is very welcome the overall number of places available has not increased and demand for places in day services increases year on year.”