THE MOTHER of a 32-year-old who needs continuous help has spoken of her fears that a centre in Leek her son attends for respite care could close.
Daniel Hall, who lives at his family’s farm Newtown, near Longnor, has been attending Leek Day Centre for people with learning disabilities for 12 years.
His mum, Pauline Hall, said it provides valuable respite care for her son.
However, Staffordshire County Council will be starting a consultation this month regarding its care service.
The council claims that the consultation, which will start on August 19, is taking place to gather views on how it can improve services to offer more flexible, personalised support.
However, carers of those who use the facility fear that this may result in the closure of the Leek Day Centre in Buxton Road.
Mrs Hall told the Post & Times: “Daniel attends the day centre threeand- a-half days a week and absolutely adores going there.
“My son, who has the mental age of five, needs two-to-one care because he can have severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties.
The majority of the time he is alright but if something changes in his structure he may need to be restrained. It can take up to four people to do this.
“He really enjoys the activities that the centre staff take him out on, but he does need two people with him in case.” Daniel said: “I really like going to the centre.
“They take me swimming, horse riding and to aerobics.
“I like the people who look after me; they are nice and friendly. I get excited when I know I am going there.
“I also know it gives my mum a break – like a Kit Kat.
“She says it’s a lot quieter at home when I’m at the centre."
Mrs Hall explained that the day centre service had been completely free for users up until nine months ago.
She said: “We then started to have to pay £26 a week. But to be honest, I don’t mind paying a certain amount if the service he likes is there.
“If the centre closes it’s going to be mayhem as that those three-and-ahalf days are my respite.
“We have not been told that it will close, but in my eyes this consultation means that it might do.
“But I will be fighting to keep the centre open.
Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said the council was committed to meeting the modern day needs of all members of Staffordshire’s community.
Councillor Marshall said: “As a county council we are absolutely determined to support all residents in our community to live as fulfilling and independent lives as possible.
“We recognise that different people need different levels of support.
“This consultation is a huge opportunity to ensure we make the right choices for the people who use our services, their families and their carers.
“It is these people who will really help us transform options for support to ensure they meet the needs and wishes of all of the people who use them.” He added: “Money is very much secondary in my mind. The key is the outcome for people with learning disabilities.
“At this stage I can absolutely promise that we have not made a decision and this is not just ‘going through the motions’.
“I want to listen to people involved and I will be attending at least one public meeting in each district when the consultation gets underway.”
Use of facilities falls
STAFFORDSHIRE County Council is asking people for their views of services provided for older people at day centres in both Leek and Cheadle.
The council claims that since 2010, attendance has fallen at the centre in Leek by around a half and and at Cheadle by more than a third, as more and more older people opt for flexible, tailored support in the community, rather than traditional centre based support.
The Leek Day Centre, in Buxton Road, has capacity for 30 older people, but on average, the council has stated, only 16 attend, and Cheadle has spaces for 25 but typically only nine attend. The number of days attended varies from person to person.
The county council is asking families and carers for their views on the day centres for older people as part of public consultation which started last Monday and lasts for 28 days.
Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “As a county council we are absolutely committed to offering older people more choice, more flexibility and more control over the support they receive.
“We want to look beyond simply providing the traditional day centre setting and really look on an individual basis how we can help each and every older person enjoy a more fulfilling and independent life.
“The fact that attendance has fallen so dramatically is a clear indication that more and more older people are choosing to opt for more personalised care in the community, and we have to question whether supporting older members in half-empty, ageing facilities really is acceptable in 2013.” The Leek Older People’s Day Centre is housed on the upper floor of a two-storey building, which is rated by the county council as in “poor condition”.
Work is being undertaken by the council with partners to “raise awareness of the alternative day support opportunities and options around personal budgets and more tailored support packages”.
Mr Marshall added: “This is a consultation and we want to hear people’s views about the day centres for older people, and will be working closely with day centre users, carers and staff over the coming weeks.”
This consultation is separate to the county council planned consultation on centres for people with learning disabilities in the county, which starts on August 19.
A business approach
AS THE future of the Leek older people’s day centre in Buxton Road is put in question, the trustees of another day centre in Leek are looking positively to the future by rebranding.
Bank House Day Centre in St Edward Street has been offering care for the elderly for more than 30 years. Up until recently pensioners were referred by the county council's Social Services department to use the facility.
However, those referrals have now been stopped as the new Direct Payment system for such care is being introduced by the county council.
With this, the trustees at Bank House are now taking more of a business approach to the running of the day centre, which can care for up to 28 elderly members of the community each day.
Trustee Maureen Wiskin said: “The intended benefit of the direct payment system is to increase people’s choice over how, when and where they would like to have their physical, mental and social needs met.
“This has been shown to work well for younger people with mental health problems.
“However we have some concerns that for a number of older, frail people the added bureaucracy for them involved may well be an unlooked for burden, which at Bank House we are doing our best to explain and minimise.
“We are facing these changes in a number of ways including the need to increase awareness of what we offer to professionals who may be in a position to alert patients/clients’ needs to what we have to offer, as well as potential clients and their carers.
“Our marketing plan has included re-branding the service and producing a co-ordinated set of publicity materials and a website.” With a slogan ‘Day care you can bank on’, Bank House Day Centre offers elderly clients transport to the day centre, refreshments and a hot meal, a range of activities and an item of personal care per day, such as a bath, hairdressing, manicure or foot care.
For further information call 01538 383665 or go online to www.bankhousedaycare.co.uk
‘Our son is treated with dignity’
HERE Pat and Tony Scheuber explain what the Leek Day Centre for people with learning disabilities means to them and their son
‘OUR son has been attending Moorlands Day Service since he was 19 (he is 30 now).
In that time he has been cared for by professional, caring people who see him as a normal human being with many difficulties.
He now attends three half-days a week and cannot wait to go. He has complex health needs and severe learning disabilities. In spite of this he is a happy outgoing young man.
The Day Service staff give him the opportunity to develop relationships outside the family unit in a safe, stable and secure familiar environment.
They know his strengths and weaknesses. They are aware when he is not himself or distressed.
Because of his health, he needs 24 hour monitoring. He is unable to access the 'community' in any meaningful way except with one-toone support. He cannot cope with cold weather (or hot) so he needs a base to access activities.
We would be overjoyed if he were able to join in external activities, but sadly he will never be able to do so.
He enjoys company and anyone who can take the time to 'chat' though it is not very easy to understand him.
Swimming and sport are not options for him; nor is drama or art. He enjoys going to the pantomime, but we could not take him to cinemas or theatres, because he would be too distracting for other cinema or theatre goers.
So his main outings are to garden centres and cafes. He loves transport and adores going on a bus, but he would never be able to access them himself. The staff take him out regularly on the bus and in his chair.
He also enjoys foot spas, hand massages, using a touch screen computer, chatting to other service users, and listening to music or stories, which we can do but it is more meaningful to him in a group situation. For him it is not so much the activities as doing them with people other than ourselves.
As for us as carers, the day service provides much needed respite for a few hours a day, three days a week.
He is well looked after in a safe environment and treated with respect and dignity.
It is important for us to be able to trust the people who care for him, as he was abused at the age of 12 and having lived through that and seen the devastation it caused in his and our lives it is a constant worry, as I am sure it is to all carers of vulnerable people.
Finally when you have a child you do not expect to be still caring for that 'child' 30 years later.
We are getting older and it becomes more difficult as the years go by. We love our son and would not consider residential care to be appropriate for him as he is very much a 'home bird', but the respite given to him by the day service is invaluable in recharging our batteries and giving us breathing space.’