Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Personal Care Wins Few Older Friends; Council Stands by Decision to Close Centres

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Personal Care Wins Few Older Friends; Council Stands by Decision to Close Centres

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

VULNERABLE people whose cherished day centres were controversially closed have shunned the offer of personal budgets in favour of sticking with traditional care.

Personal budgets, which involve elderly and disabled people getting money to spend as they choose on social activities, were cited as the way forward last summer, when Northumberland County Council first proposed shutting the seven day care centres.

The move provoked a storm of protests from users, their relatives, unions and local councillors, who said closing the centres would result in isolated people losing vital social inter-action with people their own age.

The seven centres - in Amble, Bedlington, Blyth, Prudhoe, Haltwhistle, Hexham and Ponteland - were used by about 190 people by the time they closed in late March.

Of those, more than 160 have opted to stick with traditional, building-based day care and have moved to other centres where they can continue to meet up with friends on a regular basis.

They are now attending day centres run by independent organisations such as Age Concern, St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and Helen McArdle Care, or others based in private care homes.

Some people have made their own alternative arrangements, others have dropped out of day care.

Only a few have taken up the option of having their own personal budgets.

One of those affected by the closures was wheelchair user and stroke victim Vicky Hindhaugh, 74, who has heart problems and suffers from asthma. Since the centre she used at Lyndon Walk in Blyth was closed, she has moved to the new Life Begins day centre in Cramlington, run by Helen McArdle Care. Ms Hindhaugh said it was no surprise that so many people had rejected the option of having a personal budget.

She said: "Some of these people are almost 90-years-old, and who wants to start handling money and having one-to-one carers at that age? …

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