Groups shocked at rise in charges for day care

Support groups for elderly people in Aberdeenshire have expressed shock at council plans to raise charges for day care services by nearly 40%.

Councillors on the housing and social work committee approved the increase in fees at a meeting in Aberdeen last week.

Charges will go up from £3.50 to £6 a day for attendance, and from £2.90 to £3 for a meal for a total increase from £6.40 to £9. The changes will come into effect in June.

Jane Reid works with the Friends of Insch Hospital group, which helps many local people access day care services.

She said the group had been meeting with representatives of the council’s housing and social work department as recently as last week to help with plans to expand day care provision in the area.

While she praised the work that had been done as positive, she expressed surprise that there had been no mention of the rise in fees.

“I am very disappointed. This is a huge increase,” she said.

Mrs Reid said she hoped that the news would not put off older people in the area from taking advantage of the service. “We don’t want anybody to miss out because of this,” she said.

West Garioch councillor Allison Grant has also expressed fears that many people may decide to opt out.

She said: “I am extremely alarmed at the huge increase in the cost of day care for older people.

“We would hope that this would not discourage people from going. I would encourage everybody to apply for all the benefits that they are able to claim to help cover the costs.”

Council officials have emphasised that its charging policy is based on a person’s ability to pay, and that financial assessments will be carried out for all service users.

A council spokeswoman confirmed that the housing and social work committee had agreed on a range of charges and allowances for services at a meeting last week. She added that letters would be going out to inform all service users of the forthcoming changes to fees, as is standard procedure in such cases.