Day centre closure plans to be discussed

Shaun LowthorpeControversial plans to shake up care for the elderly in Norfolk are to be put under the microscope following a backlash against the changes.Shaun Lowthorpe

Controversial plans to shake up care for the elderly in Norfolk are to be put under the microscope following a backlash against the changes.

Norfolk County Council is proposing an overhaul to council run day centres as part of a shift towards specialist units to care for people with dementia.

But the changes have sparked anger because of plans to close three day centres - The Silver Rooms and Essex Rooms, both in Norwich, and Hempnall Mill in South Norfolk.

The cabinet scrutiny committee wants to see if there is sufficient capacity to cope with the rise in numbers of people needing both day and residential care and whether staff are adequately trained to care for people with dementia in both council-run, independent, and voluntary sector homes.

The scrutiny committee, which is keen to produce its report by January 19, has agreed to look at the issue 'as a matter of urgency' after the council announced its closure plans. Councillors were also concerned about about the quality of dementia care homes nationally after the issue was raised in a recent BBC programme by businessman Gerry Robinson.

Conservative councillor Cliff Jordan said there were questions about how the strategy would fit in with social care across the board.

Most Read

'The perception is that dementia is taking all the money away,' he said. 'The majority of elderly people don't have dementia and they need to mix with their own peers, but it's how we go about providing that.'

Meanwhile the council's adult social services overview and scrutiny committee will be asked to give their views on a draft strategy to tackle dementia in Norfolk at a meeting on Tuesday .

County Hall, which estimates that it spends around �21.5m on specialist dementia care home placements, believes the changes are needed to cope with the rising numbers of people with dementia, which is set to rise by 62pc to 20,312 by 2025.

The changes form part of a new joint strategy between the council and the NHS, which is currently out to public consultation.

Members will also hear how this lack of diagnosis has had a negative impact on many people with dementia and their carers because they do not receive appropriate support and the draft strategy sets out a number of priorities including:

�early diagnosis and support, such as information and treatment in primary care;

raising awareness and understanding among professionals working with older people and the public to encourage earlier diagnosis;

providing support and breaks for carers;

improving the quality of care for people with dementia living in care homes;

improved quality of care for people in general hospitals

But Stephen Little, Green county councillor, said that strategy made a glaring omission in not recognising the work done at the Silver Rooms and Essex Rooms to spot early signs of dementia.

The council is currently consulting on the closure of those day services, saying it is not possible to convert those buildings into services focusing on dementia.

A county council spokeswoman said the reason they were not mentioned in the report was because the strategy was not looking at particular services, but at an overall strategy.

The Evening News has been fighting to keep the Norwich day centres open after concerns were raised about the lack of alternative options and the impact their closures would have on the elderly.

Are you doing something to keep one of the day centres open? Contact Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email