Who cares?

SIR, — Once again Herts County Council displays a callous approach in dealing with the provision of care for the disabled. The manipulative closure of the Jubilee Care Centre in St Albans is just another of a number of cost-cutting, cash-saving accountanc

SIR, - Once again Herts County Council displays a callous approach in dealing with the provision of care for the disabled.

The manipulative closure of the Jubilee Care Centre in St Albans is just another of a number of cost-cutting, cash-saving accountancy decisions being made in an attempt to reach yet another Government target. The Jubilee service being discussed is the care centre that looks after severely-disabled people who have been determined by Social Services as requiring constant supervision and care - not the meals-on-wheels service also housed in the building.

The "consultation" mentioned in the "Day-care debate being buried" story (Herts Advertiser, December 13) is most definitely not a consultation.

The decision to close Jubilee seems to be a done deal according to the letter circulated to the users of the centre. The letter states that "we now need to move out of the premises at Jubilee centre as this building is not suitable and we have drawn up options to ensure that all service providers continue to have their needs met".

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It is not the building we need to worry about; it is the wholly suitable care that is given by a group of dedicated people who have only the needs of their clients at heart. The access excuse is about the neighbours who complain that they cannot park their cars because of the ambulances.

My wife, who is a long-term user of the Jubilee, has special care needs that are not available within any of the options offered. If she cannot use the Jubilee, it would mean that the county would have to provide one-to-one care at home seven days a week, which cannot be cost effective. Nor would it give her the ability to meet other people or have the pleasure of being in a different but secure environment with people she can trust to keep her alive, and this is not an idle comment. She is not alone in requiring this level of care.

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The options - that are a set of "pick an option" - being offered are not able to provide adequate care needs for the centre's clients who are severely disabled.

The older people, who make up the majority, are being offered:

1.) Direct payments. What this means is that the county council are offering to pay off the users to organise their own care, which they would be unable to do themselves as no care is available. The care they require is only available as a cost-effective provision at Jubilee and is certainly not available from local private or voluntary agencies.

2.) To arrange services at Vesta Lodge run by Quantum Care. As no information has been made available for the clients to make informed decisions, I visited Vesta Lodge to see if they had the required care provision for my wife. The answer is a resounding no. My wife, who has MS and is a mute quadriplegic, needs nursing care and the provision of medication, hydration four times a day through a PEG and the management and cleaning in the event of her incontinence. None of these are available at Vesta Lodge. It is a residential care home for the aged, not a day-care centre for the disabled and severely disabled.

3.) To arrange a service run by local voluntary organisations. The voluntary organisation are even less capable of this level of care and are already trying to deal with the county council's failure in providing care for the people that they deal with. This is just another cop-out for county provision.

The other offers, for young people, are equally inadequate as is the provision for those with learning difficulties. Not forgetting that the county council will be visiting Jubilee in the New Year to discuss the needs with the people that they recognise have learning difficulties. I would proffer that these people are unable if not incapable of being able to make an informed decisions. Perhaps this is what the county are hoping for and that these people will just do what they are told.

Lets face it: Who cares - certainly not Herts County Council.

The best solution would be to leave the Jubilee alone, providing care in the centre of St Albans where it is needed and will be needed even more as time goes on, or build the new centre that was promised. Whatever happened to the money that was earmarked to provide a new centre in St Albans or did that go in last year's cuts along with the new Hatfield hospital?


The Ridgeway, St Albans.

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