Alarm bells over plans to cut day service cash

Ron Tindall, Liberal Democrat

Ron Tindall, Liberal Democrat

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Care bosses at county hall should ‘wake up’ over threats to cut cash for ‘integral’ day services, according to one opposition councillor.

Government cuts mean Herts County Council needs to save £2.2million in the next year, so is currently consulting on plans to cut hours and staff at elderly and disabled day centres across the county.

But Lib Dem Ron Tindall, party spokesman for adult care services, says the centres are a ‘key part’ of social care.

He said: “We call upon the council to fund day care services fully from the millions they are tucking away for a rainy day.

Conservative councillors need to wake up – it is already raining.”

The consultation, which runs until August 19, is surveying those who attend about six cost-cutting options, including lowering staff numbers, cutting hours and also reducing hot catering at some centres.

County councillor Tindall, who serves the Hemel Hempstead St Paul’s ward, said: “It is important to remember that without family carers, additional millions would be needed to replace their valuable unpaid service to relatives, friends and the community.

“Day centres provide social interaction which helps those without family or personal carers to live with dignity.

“​If we want an integrated system of health and care, day centres are an integral part.”

Day centres provide social interaction for those who may otherwise become isolated.

Over the past 10 years centre attendance numbers have fallen by 40 per cent, from 2,500 to 1,428, but the range of needs catered for has become increasingly complex.

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, cabinet member for adult care and health, said: “We are committed to maintaining our long and proud history of providing day support for those who need it, as well as to provide much needed respite to families and carers.

“Our service is above and beyond that which is provided in the rest of the country. We want to reassure service-users, their families and carers that everyone with eligible care needs will continue to receive day services if that is their choice.

“No-one will have the number of days on which they receive support reduced.

“However, we do need to look at different ways of providing support.

“Over the last decade, the number of people attending day services has reduced by 40 per cent, and those using our service have more complex needs which require more one-to-one support and personal care.

“These factors, together with the fact that we are receiving less money from government, means that the range and type of activities and from where they are provided are likely to change for some people.

“We can assure the families involved that any transition will be managed sensitively and with as little disruption as possible.

“We have launched a consultation so we can hear the views of service-users, their families and carers on changes being suggested on how we run our day services, and we’d also welcome any fresh ideas from them about others ways that we might be able to make the savings.”

Full details of the consultation are available online here.

In Dacorum, there is a service for older people and those with dementia at the Victoria Hall in Tring, a service for adults with learning difficulties at the Jarman Centre in Old Crabtree Lane, Hemel Hempstead, and a service for adults with physical disabilites at Greenhills Day Centre in Tenzing Road, Hemel.

Nicole Moran, manager at Greenhills Day Centre, said: “We are doing everything we can for our service users and keeping them informed.

“We have around 85 people each week and our main concern is the closure of our kitchen as the cost of a meal could rise from £3 to £4.50, which is quite a leap.

“We have spoken to our service users and many of them say they would be willing to pay extra, but it’s all up in air at the moment and no decisions have been made.”

The team at Greenhills have gathered more than 200 signatures on a paper petition, while more than 1,800 people have signed a separate Carers in Herts petiton online, which was presented to council chiefs at a meeting last Tuesday.

A final decision is expected to be made in September.