Daycare future still in doubt

PUBLISHED: 11:17 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:46 06 May 2010

CONCERNED carers and relatives voiced their fears about the future of services for disabled people using the Jubilee Centre in St Albans at a meeting last week. The meeting was called by Herts County Council s Adult Care Services (ACS) following a review

CONCERNED carers and relatives voiced their fears about the future of services for disabled people using the Jubilee Centre in St Albans at a meeting last week.

The meeting was called by Herts County Council's Adult Care Services (ACS) following a review of the Jubilee Centre in Catherine Street which established that it was no longer fit for purpose.

The Jubilee Centre has housed daycare services for elderly people with special needs for many years but late last year carers and users learned that ACS had decided not to renew the lease on the half of the building which it occupies.

Options

Initially there was a plan to construct a purpose-built replacement day centre in Fleetville but that did not materialise and now ACS is considering a number of other options.

One is to operate a service at Vesta Lodge care home and the other is to arrange a service run by local voluntary organisations in St Albans.

But the families and carers of people who use the existing daycare facilities believe that nothing which is being proposed will match what they have already at the Jubilee Centre.

One concerned relative said that at Christmas users of the Jubilee Centre were in tears at the prospect of being split up and moved elsewhere. They feared it would be their last Christmas there together and were very upset.

She said no-one could understand why when something worked as well as the Jubilee Centre did for its elderly occupants, the county council did not decide to update it and make it work even better.

District councillor Roma Mills, who is also the St Albans Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate, was at last week's meeting to support the carers. She said that the proposed Fleetville Family Centre to take its place had not gone ahead when it was found that it would cost £3.5 million. Instead ACS had come up with the two alternative options but nothing concrete had been agreed and the county council was due to take a decision on closing the Jubilee Centre service next month.

She said around 70 people used the daycare services and even though numbers had gone down, ACS admitted at the meeting that despite the uncertainty, there were a couple of people on the waiting list.

Cllr Mills said the people who used the service suffered from such illnesses as strokes, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease and their lives were already falling apart without the added stress of losing the friends they had made, some over many years.

She said: "I am very sad about it. When we had discussions about the new centre 18 months ago, we were talking about better hoists and so on. When you look in the Jubilee Centre it looks just like a Victorian school but it is what is going on in there which counts.

"I also wonder what will happen to the staff. Everyone says they are fantastic but they will end up being redeployed."

Cllr Mills added: "I can't see that we are going to have a reduced demand for these services over the years. People are living longer including those with disabilities."

The carers and relatives are now drawing up a petition against the closure and will be inviting people to sign it on Saturday outside St Albans Town Hall.

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