Dismay At Plans To Close Learning Disabilities Day Care Facility

Some of York’s most vulnerable people – many with severe learning disabilities – happily spend their days at a York day care centre. But now council chiefs are going to close the Yearsley Bridge centre as part of a “modernisation” programme for day services. They claimed today the closure was required by a Government “Valuing People” paper about services for adults with learning disabilities, and that users were being kept informed about what was going on.

However, the decision has sparked outrage amongst relatives of centre users, who said they had no idea about it and feared a vital service would be lost.

The grandmother and mother of Toni Wilson, who was tragically brain-damaged in a road accident when she was a baby and attends Yearsley Bridge five days a week, said it was like a home from home for her. “She absolutely loves it there,” said her mother Jo Wilson, of Clifton. “It’s very important to her. They do everything there – they have pampering days, when they do manicure and pedicure. They do cooking, flower arranging and painting, and have a soft play area where they can just sit. I am absolutely livid about this.”

Toni’s grandmother Myra, of Bishopthorpe, claimed that when Toni was due to start at the centre in July, she and Jo had heard rumours that the centre might close, and asked staff if they were true. “They said there was nothing in the pipeline for the next few years,” she claimed. “I am absolutely disgusted with the way we have been treated.”

The brother of another centre user, a man also suffering from brain damage, said he had heard strong rumours that the centre was going to close at the end of next year, but had not been properly informed. He said his brother went there three times a week, and it provided a vitally important service to him and also his parents, who were given a break from caring for him.

City of York Council said today the proposed closure of Yearsley Bridge was part of the modernisation of day services, and was a requirement of the Government’s Valuing People paper on services for adults with learning disabilities. “We will be moving off the Yearsley site, but are currently looking at the individual needs of each of our customers to understand what their future requirements will be,” said a spokeswoman.

“This process will identify appropriate day support for customers and is already under way. Customers and carers are aware that this is taking place and are being kept informed of progress.”

She said the review had been agreed by the Executive Member for Adult Social Services and Health and Advisory Panel (EMAP) at the beginning of the year. “The overall aim is to provide effective, modern services that are best able to meet the needs of local people,” she added.