North east councillors have insisted that changes to a respite service, which caters for people with learning disabilities, must not be “financially driven”.
The Aberdeenshire Integrated Joint Board has asked members to back a “redesign” and review of residential respite services in the area.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine and Kincardine and Mearns area committees were yesterday asked to agree plans which could see the service partly “decommissioned”.
The service is offered in Aberdeenshire for adults and children with a range of learning disabilities and complex physical, emotional and medical needs.
In-house respite is offered from three buildings in Aberdeenshire – Highfield Bungalow in Banchory and properties on Robertson Road in Fraserburgh and Seafield Road in Peterhead.
The report stated that none of the facilities operated at “full capacity” and added lower demand, requirements for specific times and last-minute cancellations were resulting in “inefficient” use of resources.
It added there was a “significant risk” residential respite services in the area “cannot be provided in the future within budget”.
Speaking at yesterday’s Formartine area committee, Turriff and District Liberal Democrat councillor, Anne Robertson, said: “I think around committees and communities, we need to be identifying any potential impact, potential consequences and asking – what is the community impact on this type of decision?
“There is a bigger picture here. It should not be finance-driven, it should be the right respite for the people.”
The IJB is a partnership between Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian, which oversees the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership.
Ellon and District SNP council co-leader, Richard Thomson, said the proposals were “unlikely” to be driven by financial issues.
He added: “Changes will always have the potential to cause great anxiety with service users.”