Carers say closing day centre in Derby will ruin lives of loved ones
CARERS say the closure of a day centre for adults with learning disabilities in Derby will ruin the lives of their loved ones.
Derby City Council is proposing to close the Wetherby Centre in Gosforth Road.
The council says it is not a cost-cutting exercise and that it wants to be able to offer people their own budgets so they can pay for different types of care.
It is estimated that it would cost the authority £1.36 million to provide those who attend the centre with their own, personal budget. The cost of keeping it open is £1.78 million.
But those who look after the adults using the day care services argue the "personal budgets" approach will not work for them and that closure is about making savings.
Brian Marshall and his wife, Chris, care for her brother, Graham, who is 55 and has severe learning disabilities. He attends the centre five days a week.
Mr Marshall, of Rothwell Road, Mickleover, said: "Personal budgets might work for some of the younger service users but not people like Graham. He loves going to Wetherby. We don't make him; it's what he wants. It's his routine."
Graham has been attending a day service in the city since he left school. Prior to Wetherby, he went to Humbleton View in Mickleover which the council closed four years ago.
Mrs Marshall said that when he had to change to Wetherby it was "a very difficult period".
She said: "He has epilepsy and when he was told Humbleton View was closing he started having his fits at night and he was hospitalised with it for a while."
Andy Pearson's son, Darren, also attends Wetherby five days a week.
Darren, 34, has profound learning difficulties and is highly dependent on care. He also suffers from coeliac disease which is triggered by food with gluten in it and causes the body's immune system to attack itself. He is also incontinent.
Mr Pearson, of Hendon Way in Mackworth, said he had been assessed for a personal budget but was appealing against it.
He said: "I got told I could have £250 a week for Darren but then I got told that it wouldn't even cover a week's stay at a respite centre where Darren goes sometimes when we have a break."
"There is no way that would pay for the care. Not only that but Darren can't talk so if he had a one-to-one carer, how would I know that he was being looked after properly? He wouldn't be able to tell me."
Margaret Harris's son, Wayne, 49, also attends Wetherby and said Wayne enjoys socialising at the centre.
She said: "I asked Wayne how he would feel if the centre was closed. He said he didn't want it to close because he would miss his friends.
"We should pool our resources as carers and try to hire somewhere for them to meet with the right staff. It's the dedicated staff that make the service."
Mrs Harris, of Brompton Road in Mackworth, said she thought the council should continue to run a day service, while still offering personal budgets for younger people.
She said: " Also, Wetherby is a big building and it's not fully used so the council could get a smaller building somewhere which would make more sense."
Councillor Fareed Hussain, cabinet member for leisure and culture, last week announced the start of a consultation into the closure.
He said that it would not close until everyone had a care plan in place which worked for them.
In addition, the centre's Inspire unit, which cares for 20 people with profound and multiple disabilities, will remain until an alternative building is found.
Council vows to work with families
COUNCILLOR Fareed Hussain, Derby City Council cabinet member for adults and health, says he will work closely with families to find alternatives to the Wetherby Centre.
The council is considering closing the day centre because it was too large, under-occupied and not offering the range of services to people it used to, such as training and skills.
Mr Hussain said: "Over the past 10 years, councils have been under pressure to move away from segregated care. More emphasis was put on this when personal budgets came into being."
To obtain a personal budget, service users are assessed as to their needs and then a sum of money is allocated to them which they can spend on different types of care and activities in the community. Carers say it could be complex for them to make those sorts of arrangements for their loved ones themselves.
Mr Hussain said: "People can have virtual budgets, which is where we tell them the amount of money they have but the council actually administers it. We are trying to be as flexible as we can.
"I would encourage carers to engage with the council to talk through possibilities and find answers."