'˜More detail needed on proposed closure of day centres'

More detail is needed on plans to close several day centres for adults with learning disabilities and relocate services elsewhere in West Sussex, according to campaigners.

Margaret Guest pictured in 2014
Margaret Guest pictured in 2014

West Sussex County Council is currently consulting on ‘Choices for the Future’ which sets out how it will run in-house adult social care services going forward.

A total of eight premises across West Sussex providing day centres or residential homes for either the elderly or adults with learning disabilities could be shut, with users accessing services at alternative locations.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The county council says no final decisions have been made, but committed to fully involving service users, families and carers in the process to ensure there is a smooth transition that minimises any disruption.

This week campaign group Don’t Cut us Out is calling for greater transparency around proposals.

Chair Margaret Guest said: “We are calling for more clarity on the proposals. How can the public and, most importantly, the people who use these services and their families make informed comment about the Council’s plans when crucial details are totally missing?

“What exactly will the ‘modernised’ services look like? Where will they be based and how will they be delivered?

“The council is not saying what numbers of disabled and elderly people will need to be moved into new services, how their specific needs and choices will be met, or how they will meet their own forecast of increasing demand.”

She added: “There are real concerns about what ‘integration’ of services into one building could mean. People with severe dementia can have very different needs from people with severe learning difficulties, or older physically frail people.

“It is not clear what the new service will look like for each distinct group. Sometimes it is right for different groups to have different services for their specific needs and abilities to be properly supported.

“Yet, without having such important details we are being asked to give our views in a consultation and survey. How is this giving vulnerable people choice and control?”

Don’t Cut Us Out is calling on the council to re-run the consultation with greater detail and commit to full public consultation before implementing each chunk of its plans for the different geographical areas.

It is calling on those affected by proposed changes to get in touch via the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dontcutusout

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “In developing the principles of what the service may look like in the future we have spoken to more than 800 people over the last two years and we will continue to do so.

“We also carry out an annual survey of everyone who uses our services which has also contributed to the development of the proposals.

“In addition to the Choices For The Future survey we have held a number of engagement sessions with families at each of the centres involved in the proposals, providing opportunities for those who attended to ask any questions they may have, and share their views on what is being proposed.

“It is important to stress that at this stage no final decision has been made. We are eager to hear from all residents who may be affected by these changes during this engagement period.

“We know that change can be difficult and unsettling for people, but before any changes take place, people who use our services, their families and carers will be fully involved and supported in order to make any changes and ensure there is a smooth transition that minimises any disruption for them.

“Modernising how we deliver care and support is based on the Care Act – the biggest change to social care in 60 years which is about changing customer expectations and supporting people to be as independent as possible.

“We would urge anyone who has any concerns over the changes being proposed to get in touch or share their views through the survey, which can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/choicesforthefuture.”

The consultation closes tomorrow (Thursday May 31).