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UNISON is a Trade Union that acknowledges that services need to change and develop to meet the needs of the community within the Local Authority, at this present time of austerity all services on offer need to be ‘good value for money’ and perform well. UNISON also acknowledges it is prudent and necessary to protect future budgets by careful planning.

The above values lead UNISON to question the changes of the service provision at The Bush Residential as presented within this plan. Detailed within the draft plan BCC has made a prediction that the number of children with additional needs will rise over the coming years. A reduction in the number of beds at the Bush may cause other budgets to be put under pressure in the future, as families may be unable to sustain family life due to the unavailability of a residential short break service.

This service is never easily accessed as the service provision on offer to families is always fully allocated. The Bush has been used over the summer by 5 young people who needed urgent non planned care, if 5 not 10 families were sharing this change to planned bookings the pressure would be far more intense than at present. Families can apparently cope with a small change to their planned care package, but the more cancelations/change the more intense the pressure on family life. This in turn can cause more pressure on the places available as these families may then need an urgent break to continue. For many families a residential short break is the factor that allows family life to continue; this break gives ‘recovery time’ for the family from the day to day care stresses e.g. lack of sleep, or the increased physical and emotional pressure of daily life. This is a fact repeated to staff usually on a daily basis when in conversation with parents, carers or siblings.

UNISON has talked with members to research the issue of occupancy within the service, as to why there are reserved beds on the register, at times. From this research UNISON can share that due to the needs and clear Risk Assessment’s, there is a Health and Safety requirement for a higher ratio of staff when certain Y Ps are resident, hence the spare beds and not every individual YP can be accommodated with other individuals at the same time, again due to R.A. as to the YPs needs and legislation around ages.

The savings detailed within the plan to reinvest are £325k which according to the figures UNISON researched is 0 .09% of the overall council published budget. UNISON’s view is that this could be viewed as ‘a spend to save’ exercise and the serviced developed with additional money to provide a more enhanced service than envisaged within this plan. It would be good to note here that only 1 or 2 young people needing a full time residential placement could ‘wipe out’ this potential saving in one year, and this could have a year on year budget impact.

UNISON would like to note here there are other services within BCC that have been omitted from the review e.g. the 15 bedded residential Lodge attached to a school, this facility is only open 4 nights per week during term time. No exploration has been made to expand or include this service within this plan; therefore it would seem that, not all options have been explored within this service plan.

UNISON would therefore ask that a decision is made to keep the 10 beds provision at the Bush Residential Resource Centre where recent inspections have said it is a good provision and that there are outstanding features for the care of disabled young people. This establishment was refurbished recently to bring the building up to the standard expected by OFSTED and it is now fit for purpose, with a highly motivated and trained staff team, to reduce this resource on offer to the citizens of Bristol, would in UNISON’S view, be a mistake, and possibly alter outcomes for families negatively.