SINN Féin Councillor Mickey Coogan has written to the South Eastern Health Trust, Down District Council and the Equality Commission to raise concerns about the impact of cuts and a deficit in services for people with disabilities.
Councillor Coogan said, “The lack of adequate provision for those with disabilities is nothing new – it is something I have raised with the various agencies in the past but recently it seems we are in a constant fire fight with Trust officials to keep funding for vital services available and review their policies on services that are supposed to assist people with disabilities, their carers and families.
“Knockevin Special School music therapy is one of many key services under threat and they have been left to fund themselves until someone in authority can confirm future funding. Respite provision for families of those with a wide range of disabilities is underfunded and the fight to get a few hours of respite can be such an ordeal that most people simply don’t apply.
“The changes in Home Help provision mean older and isolated vulnerable people have two or three different people coming to their doors and this at a time when they are asked to be careful who they let in to their homes.
“The Trust hail Care in the Community as a huge success and use this as a justification to close residential care homes and respite facilities. And while some aspects of community care are working, many more are failing the people they are designed to serve.
“There is also a threat over the future of the Hearing Impaired Unit at St Colmcilles in Crossgar and once again the decision makers are ignoring the benefits of this service in order to save minimal amounts. Home Start in Ballynahinch and Newcastle are also fighting for survival – the list is too long to include everyone.
“I believe these issues need to be addressed by our local Council and the agencies working together with the communities affected. I also believe Council have issues to address, such as the deficit in play facilities for children with disabilities and we are simply not doing enough to serve the many families/rate payers in our district who are entitled to access services,” added Councillor Coogan.