Parents of disabled young people have been left “devastated” by the closure of two care centres in the north-east.
The joint board run by Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian has agreed to close Highfield in Banchory and Robertson Road in Fraserburgh.
The closure of the Banchory facility comes at a time when reports indicate it is experiencing a downturn demand.
Elrick mum Toivi Laats, whose deaf and severely autistic 20-year-old daughter Pip has attended the Highfield Avenue bungalow for more than a decade, is among those who have been left crestfallen by the move.
She said: “I only found out officially on Saturday from the staff, who had come to say goodbye to my daughter and take her on a final walk.
“There’s not been a beep from authorities. No e-mail, no phone call and no official letter saying ‘we are sorry to announce this’, just nothing.
“The devastation this decision brings to my severely autistic daughter, who has been going there for 12 years, is indescribable.
“Finding out in January would have been just as sad, but a week before Christmas is just awful timing.”
Respite services in the north of Aberdeenshire will now be relocated to Willowbank Cottage in Peterhead after services at the Robertson Road facility in Fraserburgh ends – meaning commutes for people who had attended there.
Donna Morrison, whose son has been visiting the Fraserburgh facility since he was a child, has been campaigning against the proposal since January.
Last night, Mrs Morrison said: “I think on behalf of the families I can say we’re all really disappointed – what can I say, it’s just awful.”
It is understood the building could be used for children in the future.
There will now also be a 24/7 respite resource in Ellon, commissioned through the Inspire charity.
Chairwoman of the council and NHS integration joint board, Anne Stirling, said the review “was never about reducing respite provision or eligibility” but is “about how and where we deliver respite services in the future”.
Mrs Stirling said: “We do not take these decisions lightly and we must always balance the needs of individuals in one area with the needs of individuals in another area.
“This review has highlighted the need to ensure we are providing equitable services across Aberdeenshire and has put forward a plan for us to be able to do that.”