Residents back Mencap carer over contract loss

DISABLED residents have rallied round their much-loved carer after she lost her contract to provide home help.

Sue Roberts manages a team of people on behalf of Huntingdon Mencap, which visits four homes in Huntingdon and one in St Ives where disabled people are supported to live independently, albeit in shared accommodation.

However when Cambridgeshire County Council recently reviewed contracts for home care services, Mrs Roberts lost out.

“When you run a good service for years and years, it is a bit of a body blow to be told you’re not good enough,” she said. “I haven’t had any feedback on why I have lost the contract.”

She is worried the change may unsettle some of the residents she has helped to look after for more than 15 years.

“The county council thinks it is simplistic and is doing what it thinks is best for its budget,” she said. “However you have got to have a reasonable transition period with vulnerable people.”

A county council spokesman said the authority had recently undertaken a tendering exercise for home care services. “As with all tendering processes, which are designed to ensure that the local authority secures services that demonstrate value for money, some organisations will be successful and others won’t be,” he said.

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“We recognise that this kind of change creates uncertainty and worry for the people whose service provider will change.

“Wherever possible we are working with the successful providers to secure the transfer of the staff who deliver the care on a day-to-day basis, to the new providers. In this way, consistency of care and relationships can be maintained. We are continuing to review the impact of these changes to ensure people receive the care they need.”

Joy Winters’ daughter Janette, 53, who has learning difficulties, is cared for at her home in Beaumont Close, Huntingdon, by Mrs Roberts and her team.

Mrs Winters said: “Sue is absolutely brilliant and goes way above her remit. Her staff are the same and Sue has devoted all of her working life to it.

“It takes a long time to get to know anyone, to trust them and be happy with them.”

Mrs Winters and other disabled residents and their relatives met with a Mencap operations director on Thursday (September 20) to discuss whether there was anything the charity could do about the changes.

He explained the charity could not get involved in tender processes but the residents at the meeting continued to plan their protests, writing to Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and Cambridgeshire Mencap Honorary President Dame Norma Major.