ANZIO Digital Is Granny only for Christmas?

by Marianne Overton, Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents.
Date: 11 February 2012

Ancaster Day Centre residents tell it like it is. - Lincolnshire Magazine -

The County Council is getting smaller. The overall budget is reducing by 10% this year. Doesn’t sound too bad, but we find massive chunks taken out of the service paid for from our council tax, and generous redundancy costs soar. Whilst no salary increases have been given for three years, the remaining top dogs are still fairly comfortable. Sound familiar?

So where is the Conservative leadership making the reductions? Children, young people, elderly, those with learning disabilities.

Closing The Day Centres

“This is about increasing choice”, we are told, and they start by closing the day centres, the very thing that people have chosen. They can use personal budgets to sit in the café or go to the cinema with their carer. But can a person with mental health difficulties or feeding difficulties do this all day and everyday? And there isn’t enough money to cover the options. That’s why day centres provide an economy of scale, where needs can be provided in a cost-effective manner.

Many people have been reassessed and some are allocated a “personal budget”. These are amounts of money allocated only to people who are in substantial need, and bear little or no connection to the actual cost of care needed. Then having been cast adrift into the land of “personal choice”, the funds are reduced.

“The day centre 'consultations' have been dreadful experiences”, one parent was explaining to me. “People were so distressed and in tears. No councillors were there, only the people telling us our day centre, our lifeline, was likely to go.”

Searching for Another Solution

Some vibrant Trustees have been searching for another solution, but how can they make ends meet without the funding? How can volunteers with an embryonic organisation take on the responsibility of staff TUPE’d across as well as clients whose funding has been cut?

Many people succeed well in the day centres making items for sale in a happy vibrant atmosphere. Sales provide funds for outings with their carers. They succeed because staff are qualified and trained to understand what they individually need for a happy, stable working atmosphere, in the routine on which they depend for their security. Family are only able to cope because of the support given by these happy and regular days of work. Cutting out this support means more of these people regressing to being less happy and useful members of our communities. And who is looking after them then?

When the family budget is short, do we really say “We can’t afford to look after granny any more?” Surely we must look to making services cost-effective with a huge push on enhanced family and voluntary support, making better use of buildings and drawing in any available sources of external income. But surely we can’t just stop caring for Granny, now Christmas is over!

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