doc

RELATIVES of some of the most vulnerable groups in society have expressed their concerns over the future of county care services.

The lack of information regarding proposed changes to adult day care has left many fearing the worst.

This week, those with relatives at Norfolk House sheltered accommodation in Leominster and the St Owen Centre in Hereford spoke out.

Both services are currently managed by Wye Valley NHS Trust on behalf of Herefordshire Council.

The local authority has now entered a period of consultation with service users before it commissions day care opportunities for adults later this year.

A meeting held at the St Owen Centre on Wednesday morning was designed to inform carers and family how the changes will affect service users.

David Mason, spokesman for the council at the meeting, admitted “communication has been poor” but assured attendees that the services would still be run until individual assessments of each service user had been completed.

Jaci Hope, from Fownhope, has an autistic son who receives support from St Owen Centre staff.

She was one of many attending yesterday who feared staff numbers will be reduced, causing a “knockon effect in every aspect”.

Councillor Marcelle Lloyd- Hayes, a member of the county’s health and wellbeing committee, agreed that there was a severe lack of available information for all concerned.

Shooters Bar in Leominster does, however, claim to know some of the changes affecting Norfolk House.

Staff set up an online Facebook campaign to halt changes, they say, will be made to kitchens at the home.

The campaign states: “For the elderly community what it does mean is no more fresh meals for the pensioners that have always paid their dues.”

Wendy Corfield’s father has been living at Norfolk House for three years and she has attended consultation meetings this week.

She said: “My concern is that they are destroying a fantastic facility for the elderly when they should be using it as a model of excellence.”

Councillor Graham Powell, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said Herefordshire Council is talking to people who use these services to find out what they would like to see provided in the future.

“We are not stopping anything,” he added.

“What’s happening is we currently have an arrangement with the Wye Valley NHS Trust and in September that’s coming to an end.

“Staff are coming back to us and services will carry on but it’s actually a great opportunity.

“The aim is to encourage new developments and provide more activities and services so that people have more choice and control over their care, using their personal budget.

“We have been holding a number of public meetings to discuss options with members of the public.

“Following these discussions, we will put together recommendations for cabinet to consider when it meets on July 25.”