Day centre closures and mergers on the horizon for cost-cutting council
Anthony Lewis Local Democracy Reporter
Changes to day services for older people will see day centres closed, services moved and two centres merged.
The proposals approved by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council will see Trecynon Day Centre and Cwmni Dda Day Centre merge by March 2024 and Tonyrefail Day Centre being closed with services there moved to Cwrt yr Orsaf Extra Care in Pontypridd by March 2024.
The council said this move could save around £140,000 a year which it said would be “reinvested” into adult services.
The change would see Trecynon and Cwmni Dda merge on the Cwmni Dda site with Trecynon to be closed from April 2024.
Cwmni Dda day centre has been favoured over Trecynon day centre as it has a large room that is not currently used and therefore has capacity for more day centre users, up to 25 older people.
At Cwmni Dda Day Centre, people will also have access to sensory gardens, gardening opportunities, more accessible spaces and enhanced use of outdoor space, the report said.
‘No change’ to care level
The report said there will be “no change” to the level of care and support people receive and care staff will also be relocated with them.
The second proposal involves the day service provision currently provided from Tonyrefail being transferred on a phased basis to Cwrt yr Orsaf in Pontypridd by March 2024 with the Tonyrefail centre closing by April 2024.
The report said that Cwrt yr Orsaf Extra Care in Pontypridd includes a new integrated day care provision, with daily capacity for up to 25 older people – the same as Tonyrefail day centre.
Although not yet opened, the council said Cwrt yr Orsaf will offer state-of-the-art facilities, as part of the wider extra care facility, to support people with a range of care and support needs.
It will provide them with a more suitable and social environment to increase opportunities for socialisation through joint activities with residents such as accessing the cinema room, hair and beauty services and gardening opportunities.
It also said that Cwrt yr Orsaf provides a “much better location” to access the community outreach opportunities.
The report said that staff structures will need to be reviewed and any potential employment implications for staff will need to be consulted upon prior to any change in service.
The report said: “While the council’s day centres remain popular among the people that use them and provide respite for carers, attendance at them has shown a decline over recent years, reflecting people’s choice to have their wellbeing and care needs met by alternative means available within their own communities.
“In October 2016, 215 older people were registered at the council’s day centres and average daily attendance was 56 people.
“In October 2023, just 119 older people are now registered, and average daily attendance as reduced to 32 people, a reduction of 43%. All day centre sites continue to be underutilised.
“Over a prolonged period, demand for day centre provision for older people in this sort of traditional setting has been declining across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“Increasingly, people are choosing other models of care to meet their individual needs, including outreach support work.
“This way of working is far less dependent on building based routines and is supportive of people accessing universal services reconnecting people to their community.”
It added: “The proposals ensure that there will be no loss of service provision for current and future older people assessed as needing day service support. Care staff will also be relocated with day service attendees to promote a seamless transition and to provide continuity of care.”
Cabinet member for health and social care Councillor Gareth Caple said that there is a “strong rationale” guiding the changes and that he believes the proposals will deliver positive benefits for both current and future users.
‘Cost saving activity’
Councillor Danny Grehan, who represents Tonyrefail East, said: “I don’t feel that closing Tonyrefail is happening for the right reasons. This is just a cost saving activity.
“Tonyrefail centre is a modern centre. It has everything that the users need.”
Cllr Grehan said: “There’s nothing wrong with the resources available in Tonyrefail. It is an excellent centre, the staff are excellent and the service users receive excellent care.”
He said saving money is the only reason they’re thinking of Tonyrefail and that none of the other reasons are good enough.
Craig Jones from the GMB union raised concerns about facilities as there are designated areas for service users such as the dining room in Tonyrefail while areas like the lounge, dining room and cinema room in the new facility will be shared.
He also raised concerns about the number of toilets designated for day service users at the new facility compared to Tonyrefail.
He urged cabinet to defer it so staff can get into the building and hopefully provide the service required.
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