"We want to keep the Day Centre open."
This is what managers from Cheshire East Council said when they attended the Audlem Parish Council meeting last Monday. "We just need to work out how to pay for them in the future," said Mike Crawshaw, Performance and Project Manager. He added that "the (Day Care) service could be expanded and a positive outcome could come out of this".
The attendance by three managers at the Parish Council meeting was at the request of the Sub-Committee of the Parish Council set up to co-ordinate the efforts of local campaigners who are already working on a business plan to take over the running of the day service locally.
"I would stress the value of the Day Centre. We are looking for a positive outcome," said Rob Walker, Commissioning Manager, who has recently visited the service. "We like the idea of local people running the centre for local people. This is what sustainability is all about".
Age Concern had stopped dealing with these as far back as March 2010 when they unilaterally decided, ahead of any sort of consultation, that the centres would be closed. Lucia Scally, Senior Manager for Commissioning said that she was meeting with Age Concern shortly and would insist that new referrals were dealt with from now on.
Ms Scally also confirmed in an answer to a question from Roger Millns, representing the Audlem Medical Practice Patient Group, that, as it would take about six months to agree the way forward within the Council, interim arrangements would be made to continue with the service, if necessary, whilst a permanent solution was implemented. "We cannot leave people to fail," she said. Indeed, she later confirmed that the approach being taken in Audlem could well become an exemplar for others areas of Cheshire.
Options currently identified include having an independent day service company run individual day centre or all of them; supporting local staff to run them as social enterprises; an existing social care provider of day services being given the contract or having community boards run the service as not-for-profit charities supported by Parish Councils.
The Social Services Managers were told that this last option was the one being explored by the Sub-Committee in Audlem and that initial costings had identified that such an approach could operate the day service, and indeed expand it to meet growing needs, at a 30% less cost than currently under Age Concern.
Sub-Committee members stressed that such a community approach would continue to maximise volunteer input, ensure day service provision was developed in keeping with local needs and wishes and would be very much a personalised service for individuals as well.
The Sub- Committee will be meeting again during September and is planning to hold a local public meeting with all interested parties to discuss the way forward on how best to secure the vital day service for the older people of Audlem into the future.
Audlem Online will keep you posted on developments.
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