The future of care at Lewes’s Phoenix Centre, along with five other such facilities in East Sussex, is under review – with closure being one of the options considered.
East Sussex County Council has to find savings of £1m in a budget of some £2m.
The Phoenix Centre provides a day-care service for older people who have been assessed as needing support to help them live independently.
Members of Lewes Town Council attended a consultation meeting at the venue on Friday, where the options were explained to them.
The county ouncil’s Head of Strategic Commissioning, Barry Atkins, revealed them to be: develop or change the provision in the light of need, specified outcomes and demand; closure and re-provision in light of need, specified outcomes and demand; closure and commissioning of new services within the voluntary, community or independent sector; retaining the status quo.
With the exception of Pinehall, at Hastings, which achieves 74 per cent capacity, Lewes’ centre scores 72 per cent and is the next highest. Lewes also achieves the lowest gross client cost at £66.56.
The thought has been expressed that £500,000 could be achieved through efficiency, perhaps reducing the cost at Lewes to £50 per unit, with similar costs savings effected through the estate.
But that still leaves a shortfall of the same amount again and it is doubtful that this could be achieved through extra outside income.
Unlike Eastbourne, the demographic of the Lewes population is that the age of residents is increasing and will continue to increase. This applies not only to the county town, but also to the surrounding rural areas and villages who look to Lewes as “their” town.
Cllr Stephen Catlin said: “To imagine Lewes being without this facility is unthinkable and it is still not too late for more people to contact East Sussex County Council to give their opinion.”
He added that users of the Phoenix Centre regard the standard of services delivered there as being very high and general satisfaction of the services offered has been expressed.
If you have any questions about this consultation, which closes on October 14 prior to going to County Council Cabinet in November, you should contact Janice Knight on 01323 464113. The county council can be e-mailed at email@example.com and the consultation questionnaire may be viewed on line at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay
Cllr Catlin added: “Just saying ‘it must be kept’ is not an attitude that will keep the Phoenix open. It is necessary to stress why and the positive benefits to the community which it provides.”
What the public tells the county council in the consultation will be considered alongside a detailed analysis of the services currently available from other organisations and the needs of clients and carers.
A recommended proposal for the Phoenix Centre day service will be developed using this information.