Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Closures Will Rob Elderly of Friends' Council Open Debate on Day Centres' Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Closures Will Rob Elderly of Friends' Council Open Debate on Day Centres' Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Loraine

FAMILY members and carers of elderly and disabled people last night spoke of their fears over moves to close seven council-run day centres in Northumberland at a public meeting.

The debate, at Prudhoe Community High School, hosted by council and care chiefs, is the first of a series of consultation events over the proposals to close the centres, which are used by 370 elderly and vulnerable people a week.

Relatives fear that the closure of the centres - in Amble, Bedlington, Blyth, Ponteland, Prudhoe, Hexham and Haltwhistle - will rob elderly users of regular get-togethers with friends of their own age and leave some stuck in their homes.

But council and care chiefs maintained last night that the proposals were a matter of making the most out of tax-payers' money, pointing to a decline in the popularity of the facilities.

Relatives feel the day centres are extremely important as they provide a vital break from caring for their loved ones round the clock.

One of many concerned family members at the meeting was Stuart Deeley, whose 83-year-old mother Doris lives in Wylam and attends the Oaklands House day care centre in Prudhoe.

He said: "I fear, in her state, how stressful it would be if the centre was not around.

"There has been a reluctance tonight to give a straight answer.

"They have obviously been given a challenge to reduce costs and they are going to drive this through unless a significant body of clients or relatives opposes it.

"That's why I'm prepared to work with the Oaklands team to see what we can do." Daljit Lally, the council's executive director of adult care, said no decisions would be taken until a full consultation had been carried out across the affected areas.

But she also suggested that the current day care centres were not the best option financially.

"Yes, it's a very valued service and the staff are well praised but that isn't an effective use of public money," she said. …

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