Desperate plea to save centre services
SERVICES offered to disabled people at the Jubilee Centre could not be replicated elsewhere according to a carer who is desperately worried about the proposed closure of the day centre. Mervyn Richards, who lives in Marshalswick with his wheelchair-bound
SERVICES offered to disabled people at the Jubilee Centre could not be replicated elsewhere according to a carer who is desperately worried about the proposed closure of the day centre.
Mervyn Richards, who lives in Marshalswick with his wheelchair-bound and quadriplegic wife Lynette, believes being able to use the daycare service at the Jubilee Centre in St Albans for the past 25 years has saved Herts County Council millions of pounds in care.
He is one of many carers and users of the service who are fighting to persuade the county council not to go ahead with the closure of the day centre based there when it meets on February 18.
The county council has decided the daycentre at the Jubilee Centre - which it leases from St Albans District Council - is no longer fit for purpose and was at one time proposing to replace it with a new purpose-built centre in Fleetville which was abandoned for cost reasons.
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Nearly 70 disabled people use the centre each week, most of them elderly, and the county is now proposing alternatives to users such as making direct payments to them, offering a service at Vesta Lodge care home in St Albans, or the provision of day care by voluntary organisations.
But all of those options would mean the end of friendship groups for users of the facilities and the splitting up of the dedicated team who look after them.
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Mr Richards explained that the users of the daycare services were categorised as high dependency with a varied number of diseases and incapacities.
In that capacity, the staff had to carry out nursing care including the administration of fluids and oral hygiene for those who are fed through a tube as well administer medication as instructed by doctors.
He added: "Most people who attend the Jubilee are wheelchair-bound and suffer from incontinence and also need assistance in the more personal and intimate needs associated with their condition.
"Other personal needs include washing, bathing and hairdressing. The carers at the centre have to be constantly aware of the condition of the clients and are able to act as early warning that something is not right and report this or call in the nursing services or ambulance as necessary."
Mr Richards pointed out that in addition they offered occupation therapy such as art, basket weaving and pottery, as well as feeding clients and helping them to eat.
He said that without the staff there he and his wife, who is now in the later stage of Multiple Sclerosis, would not have been able to continue a lifestyle as close to normal as possible.
He described the staff attitude as "loving" and ensured his wife was not excluded from the many activities which she thoroughly enjoyed.
He added: "She has her own life away from her home and family that assists in the feeling of independence. Above all she is still able to smile and demonstrate her feelings when things go wrong."
Without the Jubilee, he said, he would not have been able to maintain his family, house and job as well as reaching retirement age - and the burden would have fallen on other services. "We save the council millions of pounds a year," he added.