11:16AM, Friday 24 September 2021
Krysztof Dudzinski (right) with his daughter Marta and wife Margaret
The closure of five care centres in Slough is set to go ahead as the council seeks to cut costs over its adult social care provision.
Slough Borough Council outlined its plans to shut the facilities for residents with learning disabilities and autism back in March.
The local authority said services and activities could be provided by charities, community groups or the private sector at a lower cost.
Cabinet members agreed to go forward with the proposals to close Lavender Court, Respond (short-term breaks service), Priors Day Service, Phoenix Day Service and The Pines Day Service during a meeting on Monday despite facing public opposition from a petition signed by more than 800 people.
Langley resident Krysztof Dudzinski, whose daughter Marta has severe learning disabilities, launched the petition urging the council to abandon the plan after he saw how the move could affect people using the day centres.
He said: “People with learning disabilities or autism really need routine and they cope very badly with change.
“We are now entering the territory where we will be offered fragmented services with a personal assistant one day, an activity at an alternative provision on another day and it creates an organisational headache for parents and carers.
“You also create a problem for people that don’t cope well with change and in some cases they may just refuse to go.”
Marc Gadbsy, associate director of adult social care operations at the council, said the local authority believed the day centre services did not have to be directly delivered by the council and could be tailored to meet each person’s needs.
He told the meeting the council expects to save £1.1 million by closing the council-run facilities and switching to alternative providers.
Mr Gadbsy faced questions over whether the switch would leave vulnerable residents having to travel longer distances to access support.
Labour councillor Balvinder Bains (Lab, Upton) added that day centres are not just important for users but also provide a respite for parents and carers of people with learning disabilities.
An estimated 107 people use the day centres and Mr Gadbsy said each user will have a needs assessment by the end of the year.
The meeting heard that 61 care staff currently work across the five facilities and redundancies are ‘likely’ if employees cannot be moved to similar roles within the council.
Alan Sinclair, executive director of people at the council, warned: “We have a reducing adult social care budget over the coming years and as cabinet you need to be realistic about what’s going to be available for people as we move forward.”
Conservative councillor Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “Before the financial crisis we were saying we wanted to be world-class facilities providers and world-class service providers.
“It’s far from that in this meeting, we are delivering the bare minimum.”