Council consults on potential closure of Shirebrook day centres for people with disabilities

The public will be asked their opinion on proposals to potentially close eight day centres for people with disabilities – including one in Shirebrook – as part of a shake-up of services.

By Christina Massey
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 8:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 8:42 pm

At Derbyshire Council’s latest cabinet meeting, members approved a 12-week consultation on the future of services for people with learning disabilities and autism.

The council currently operates 12 days centres, which are attended by 139 people out of the 740 with learning disabilities or autism that the authority supports.

It says closing eight of the centres, including on Carter Lane, Shirebrook, which it claims are currently under used, would free up investment to redesign the service.

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The centre is based on Carter Lane, Shirebrook.

Proposals include expansion of the Community Connectors team – trained staff who support people to explore opportunities that exist in their local communities and creation of a new Support Service Team to provide more intensive practical support to people and their families.

Coun Natalie Hoy, member for adult care, said: “I’d like to reassure people that everyone’s views will be taken into consideration before any decisions are made about the future of day services.

“I understand that for some people the prospect of change can be unsettling, but this is about people having the best quality of life they can possibly have. Everyone deserves to live an independent and fulfilling life.

“We know people with learning disabilities and/or who are autistic want the freedom and support to be more involved in their local community, so we want to ensure the services we offer focus on their strengths to achieve their personal goals.

“While we recognise that for people with complex needs, a more traditional building-based service may need to form part of their care, for others it may not be the best way to support them to lead fulfilled lives.

“Younger people in particular are already choosing to do other things and we’ve seen a reduction in the numbers of people wanting to use a day centre, something that was happening even before Covid.

“By transforming our service, we would be able to make better use of the resources we have available to help more people with learning disabilities and/or who are autistic lead more independent and fulfilled lives.”

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Cruel

However, the plans have been called ‘cruel’ and ‘wrong’.

Alongside ongoing plans which could see seven council care homes closed, the day-centre proposals has led the authority’s Labour opposition to question ‘what vulnerable group will they target next?’

Coun Joan Dixon, Labour Group leader, said: “As with our care homes, the Conservative administration at Derbyshire Council seem hellbent on destroying much-respected, locally based provision for purely ideological reasons.

“First they want to shut old people’s homes, now day centres for those with learning disabilities. What vulnerable group will they target next?”

Coun Ed Fordham, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Given the shock waves the council has already started with the threat to care homes, I am astonished the same portfolio holder, Coun Hoy, is now threatening closures on day care facilities.

“This is a council leadership looking increasingly cruel with their financial decisions, totally misunderstanding the growing demand for care and support within local communities.”

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