My fears for day centre ‘lifeline’

Lifeline: Jonquil Holton and mum Mary May-Miller, who uses the Springfield Day Centre in Bideford twice a week. Lifeline: Jonquil Holton and mum Mary May-Miller, who uses the Springfield Day Centre in Bideford twice a week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
3:56 PM

Families who rely on the service say there’s ‘nothing quite like it’.

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The Springfield Day Centre in Bideford is among 11 centres for the elderly and disabled facing closure under proposals announced by Devon County Council.The Springfield Day Centre in Bideford is among 11 centres for the elderly and disabled facing closure under proposals announced by Devon County Council.

FAMILIES of elderly and disabled people who use day centres say a lifeline would be lost if the centres were to close.

Eleven in North Devon and Torridge are facing the axe under cost-cutting proposals announced by Devon County Council – services used by around 300 people.

The daughter of one 83-year-old woman who has attended the Springfield Day Centre in Bideford twice a week for two years told the Gazette there is ‘nowhere else quite like it in the community’.

Jonquil Holton, 58, said: “My mum has dementia but Springfield has been her lifeline.

The Springfield Day Centre in Bideford is among 11 centres for the elderly and disabled facing closure under proposals announced by Devon County Council.The Springfield Day Centre in Bideford is among 11 centres for the elderly and disabled facing closure under proposals announced by Devon County Council.

“The staff are experienced in supporting her and the other clients to retain their skills, stimulate their memory with appropriate games and activities, and support her to remain in her own home.

“Apart from the carer’s daily visit, it is her only social contact.”

Her mum, Mary May-Miller, said: “Most of the time I just sit here and look out the window so it’s a nice place to go.

“They come out and collect me in a bus and drop me off afterwards.”

In Barnstaple, Oakwell, Rosebank, Oasis, Silverhill, Tarka, and Greenfields are all earmarked for closure subject to consultation.

Springfield and Quayside in Bideford will go, as will Beech House in South Molton, Burrow House in Ilfracombe and a hub at the Plough in Torrington.

The only day centre to be retained under the proposals is Woodland Vale in Torrington .

Springfield provides a range of social activities for 79 people aged 65 to 100. Of those, 39 are described as having ‘high level’ needs and 40 have ‘low level’ needs.

Activities vary from singing and cookery to chair-based exercise.

Mrs Holton said staff told service users at Springfield of the proposals this week.

“I understand that there were a lot of tears and everyone was upset – including the staff because they care very much for the people who go there,” she said.

“There is a feeling that although the consultation has not been completed, the decision has already been made.

“Staff are devastated – not just for themselves but for the people they look after.”

The county council, which must save £110million over the next four years due to Government cuts, says it will not close the centres until clients have access to alternative support. It says it will look to the private and voluntary sector to bridge the gap.

But Mrs Holton said she had never been able to find anything else quite like Springfield in the community.

“The council says it will be able to offer a like-for-like service but I’m not sure how they are going to do it because they are closing day centres everywhere,” she said.

“All the way along the staff have been instrumental in helping Mum – I’m not sure that voluntary services can fulfil the role as adequately as professional, trained staff can.”

The council said it had seen a 66 per cent drop in the numbers of people attending its day centres since 2005, claiming more people were choosing to pursue other hobbies and interests during the day, or attend activities such as memory cafés rather than attend council day centres.

But Mrs Holton blamed the council for the lack of referrals: “They say that there have not been many referrals but I think that’s deliberate because they are not offering the service to people. I can’t believe there are only 39 people in Bideford who are in this boat.

“If it was a proper business they would advertise it. I’m sure there are many others who haven’t found their relatives a place at a day centre because they haven’t been offered one.”

County councillor Stuart Barker said that there would be no change to people’s entitlement, and that everyone eligible for council support would continue to receive it.

“We are not reducing or cutting support to people with eligible needs,” he said.

“The question is about whether we continue providing day services in our day centres, or whether we make more use of the many excellent private and voluntary sector day services that are located near ours.

“With centre costs rising with fewer people attending, we must be realistic.”

Mrs Holton said the day centre had become a ‘lifeline’.

“With dementia you lose a lot of your friends from the life you had before. But Mum has made new friends at Springfield .

“Her dementia will only get worse but I know that she has got some kind of social life going there.

“It can be quite hard getting old, but with all the services they are taking away, what’s going to be left for them or any of us when we get older?”

3 comments

  • My mother will be 90 years old in June. She has had dementia for several years and for a similar time she has visited Springfields on Wednesdays and Fridays every week. She loves it , in fact it is the only event in her week that she knows will happen and she looks forward to it. I live in Suffolk and I phone her every day, the only time I know that she will respond happily is after a visit to Springfields. She remembers nothing of it on a day to day visit but she knows even in her state of lack of memory that it has been a good time. I know from her happiness when I speak to her that she has enjoyed herself. She has the report off by heart , " They are lovely, they pick me up, only 4 or 5 of us, they bring us home and are very kind. We have coffee or tea when we get there, and a delicious lunch. They even give us tea and biscuits before we leave. I'm so lucky to live here." She tells me they have tests and that she is always bottom of the class. My mother Margaret Paterson used to be a nurse and worked within the local health authority for most of her working life until she was 78 and had already retired 3 times so she feels at home going to Springfields. She sometimes thinks she has been reading to patients or helping her colleagues. For the last few years my mother has been unwilling to allow herself to be washed or to change her clothes. It had become a huge problem but now she is bathed and her clothes are changed by the wonderful staff at Springfields, her hair is also washed every week. Mother loves it. Should Springfields close her whole life will be diminished and I fear to imagine the consequences. She is fortunate, due to the help of my brother and his family, particularly his daughter Bethan, to be able to reside in her own home in Westward Ho! This situation will not be able continue without the essential support of Springfields. I'm sure this must be true of all of the other vulnerable, elderly people who use this amazing facility with joy. Finances are obviously an issue. We would certainly be willing to pay towards keeping the service in operation. Jeanie Kemp

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    jeanie

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

  • It is indeed very sad, when you look at this article about my Mother, Mary May-Miller. Since moving to Bideford in 1968, Mary and her late husband Phil were stalwarts of the local community. They ran the 2nd Bideford Cubs and Scouts for over 25 years. Mary also worked in the youth club for several years, whilst Phil was involved with assisting to run the local church. Phil spent several years as the President of the Regatta Committee, and after his Death, Mary took over the President’s role for another 8 years. Throughout nearly 40 years, Mary (and Phil) have given countless hours of their time and effort to the town and community of Bideford. Now in her later years, with the onset of dementia, it has become Mary's time to be in need of some help from the community. Along with several others in the same age group, they have become reliant on the excellent help and care provided by Springfield. With this help and support it has meant that Mary has been able to continue to live in her own house. Unfortunately the council is so hell bent on saving money and cutting services, they have lost any compassion for the elderly members of the town, the ones who built the local community and steered it towards the way it is currently functioning. These the very people to whom these councillors have been elected to serve. It has become the council’s attitude to close the door in the faces of all these people to save money. Mary has spent her life saving the council money by doing countless voluntary tasks in the area, and of course paying her part of all local taxes throughout her life. Some may think that it is probably her fault, if she had not shown the town how much of their own time and help volunteers will give to them in running services they would not consider shutting down these centres, and end up relying entirely on the Voluntary sector and various charities to take over the running of this type of service. I urge anyone who is in their seventies or with parents approaching or in that age bracket, to stand up and be counted over this matter. It might not be your need yet, but it is a fact of life that dementia can and will set in in many cases, and with the correct services in place, the quality of life for many of our elderly citizens will be greatly improved. We already contribute a considerable amount towards the service provided for our loved ones at this center, if it purely financial, then why not come up with a proposal to increase the cost for users. I for one, and the comment above from Jeanie Kemp also statse that they will be willing to contribute towards things at the center.

    Report this comment

    Dave

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

  • It is indeed very sad, when you look at this article about my Mother, Mary May-Miller. Since moving to Bideford in 1968, Mary and her late husband Phil were stalwarts of the local community. They ran the 2nd Bideford Cubs and Scouts for over 25 years. Mary also worked in the youth club for several years, whilst Phil was involved with assisting to run the local church. Phil spent several years as the President of the Regatta Committee, and after his Death, Mary took over the President’s role for another 8 years. Throughout nearly 40 years, Mary (and Phil) have given countless hours of their time and effort to the town and community of Bideford. Now in her later years, with the onset of dementia, it has become Mary's time to be in need of some help from the community. Along with several others in the same age group, they have become reliant on the excellent help and care provided by Springfield. With this help and support it has meant that Mary has been able to continue to live in her own house. Unfortunately the council is so hell bent on saving money and cutting services, they have lost any compassion for the elderly members of the town, the ones who built the local community and steered it towards the way it is currently functioning. These the very people to whom these councillors have been elected to serve. It has become the council’s attitude to close the door in the faces of all these people to save money. Mary has spent her life saving the council money by doing countless voluntary tasks in the area, and of course paying her part of all local taxes throughout her life. Some may think that it is probably her fault, if she had not shown the town how much of their own time and help volunteers will give to them in running services they would not consider shutting down these centres, and end up relying entirely on the Voluntary sector and various charities to take over the running of this type of service. I urge anyone who is in their seventies or with parents approaching or in that age bracket, to stand up and be counted over this matter. It might not be your need yet, but it is a fact of life that dementia can and will set in in many cases, and with the correct services in place, the quality of life for many of our elderly citizens will be greatly improved. We already contribute a considerable amount towards the service provided for our loved ones at this center, if it purely financial, then why not come up with a proposal to increase the cost for users. I for one, and the comment above from Jeanie Kemp also statse that they will be willing to contribute towards things at the center.

    Report this comment

    Dave

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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