People with multiple sclerosis in Lancashire will now have access to specialist respite care in Lancashire following today's launch of a new facility at Oaklands care home in Garstang thanks to a multi-agency commitment.
A dedicated bed and specialist care plan will mean people with MS can receive specialist care while their partners and carers take a break. At present one dedicated bed has been allocated and another may be added if there is the need for it.
The innovative joint funding scheme is a five way partnership agreement between the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the private provider Leonard Cheshire, and Lancashire's three local authorities - Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Borough Council.
The MS Society approached Lancashire's three local authorities as part of its national strategy to increase specialist respite care facilities. Oaklands had to meet the Society's stringent standards to be considered as a preferred provider. The Society currently makes a contribution towards the cost of the bed if it is used by a MS patient and provides specialist training for staff.
According to the MS Society 1 in 800 people in Lancashire will have multiple sclerosis, with over a quarter being severely disabled.
Vanessa Lindsay Smith, Head of Respite Care Services at the MS Society, explained:
"MS is a very complex neurological disease which can place heavy demands on carers. It is essential that they can take a much-needed break from time to time knowing that the person for whom they are caring is receiving the very best attention from people who understand the condition. We are delighted that we now have this excellent facility to serve people with MS in Lancashire."
John Winkler, Regional Director for Leonard Cheshire in the North West, added:
"Leonard Cheshire is delighted to be involved in this partnership with Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Borough Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. This agreement provides recognition for the long-standing reputation that Oaklands has acquired for providing high quality care and support to disabled people, including respite care."
From Lancashire County Council's point of view, the project meets many of the objectives within its new Strategy and Commissioning Plan for carers. There are currently over 125,000 unpaid carers in Lancashire, making up nearly 11% of the population, from all sections of the community, who voluntarily look after a partner, relative or friend who is ill or disabled.
County Coun Chris Cheetham, cabinet member for adult services and health, said:
"This is a unique service agreement that increases choice and availability of respite care for MS sufferers and their carers. The scheme has demonstrated that partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sector can work in providing much needed specialist support services for people whatever their condition or needs."
Notes for Editors
Photographs are available on request.
For further information please contact: Andrew Lynn on 01772 534372