Concern over day care provision for elderly

CONCERN is mounting over the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s plans to change day care provision for older people in the Vale – by combining the services available at Gardenhurst Day Centre in Penarth with those at Rondel House in Barry.

The proposed changes would see Rondel House upgraded to make it more accessible and to offer an improved environment, including bathing facilities.

The Gardenhurst service would cease to exist, with all users of the service across the Vale subject to an assessment to determine if they are eligible to continue receiving care under the national Fair Access to Care guidance.

Sue Phillips, whose mother attends Gardenhurst, said she fears elderly people and their carers are getting ‘the short straw’.

“From what I understand of the Vale Council’s plans to cut day care services, Gardenhurst is scheduled to cease its current role,” she said.

“It will be used instead to accommodate adults with learning disabilities who are currently based in Barry.

“The elderly folk who attend both Gardenhurst and Rondel House will, unless they are deemed to have critical needs under social services criteria, be barred from accessing Rondel House, meaning Penarth will lose its day centre, and three vulnerable communities will be shuffled from pillar to post, or actively barred from receiving care.

“The carers of those vulnerable elderly folk will have their precious respite – which can make the difference between coping or floundering under the responsibility of being a full time carer – stripped away.”

Sue, who lives on Birch Lane, Penarth, said: “The manager of Gardenhurst and the excellent team of care workers have provided wonderful care for my mother, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, over the past 12 months.

“They have not only provided an opportunity for mum to enjoy companionship with the elderly, frail community for whom the day centre plays such a vital role, but also enabled me, as a carer, to have two mornings a week precious respite.

“You cannot pour a quart into a pint pot – and elderly people and their carers are yet again getting the short straw.

“I understand that Gardenhurst was gifted to the town of Penarth by the Pegler family – benefactors from a former, wealthier era,” she added.

“The intention of the gift was to ensure that elderly people in Penarth would be cared for. “How incredibly sad that such a precious gift should be trampled on to enable the Vale to either shuffle about three vulnerable groups – or indeed actively bar them from a centre like Gardenhurst which has provided such a lifeline for people like me and my family.

“Penarth has a large elderly population which deserves more respect.”

Phil Evans, director of social services for the Vale of Glamorgan, was keen to stress that the proposals have not yet been implemented and no service users have been turned away.

“The Council is consulting about plans for making some changes in day care services for older people, with the aim of ensuring that as many people as possible – but especially the most vulnerable – can get the help and support they need to remain independent and lead fulfilled lives,” he said.

“The consultation includes writing to all the people who attend day centres as well as holding a series of meetings to explain the proposals in more detail. “The issues raised by people as part of the consultation will be taken into consideration before final plans are made.”