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Glimmer of hope for Norwich day care centres

PUBLISHED: 16:00 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:35 02 July 2010

Essex Rooms, Essex Street, Norwich

Essex Rooms, Essex Street, Norwich

Sarah Hall

Social services bosses will next week meet voluntary organisations to see if any charities might be prepared to take over the running of two Norwich day centres threatened with the axe.

Social services bosses will next week meet voluntary organisations to see if any charities might be prepared to take over the running of two Norwich day centres threatened with the axe.

Consultation is currently under way over proposals which could see the closure of the Silver Rooms and the Essex Rooms in Norwich as part of Norfolk County Council's strategy to focus on elderly people with dementia.

The county council says within 15 years there will be a 62pc increase in the number of people in Norfolk with dementia - rising from 12,714 in 2008 to 20,621 by 2025.

They say that means they have to change their focus on tackling the surge in dementia and the care homes and day services it runs will change as a result.

Council bosses say the Essex and Silver Rooms are not suitable to be converted to that use, so have proposed their closure, to the fury of pensioners who use them.

They have led petitions calling for the centres to be saved and packed two public meetings where the issues were discussed.

At a meeting of the county council's cabinet scrutiny committee yesterday, where the dementia strategy came under the spotlight, it emerged talks were imminent which could yet save the centres.

David Harwood, cabinet member for adult social services, said: “We know dementia services would be difficult to deliver in those centres, but that does not mean to say services for people who are old and infirm cannot be provided there.

“We have agreed that we will create in-house day care services for people with dementia and re-ablement needs, so it is a question of how we will deliver other services.

“We have had discussions with the voluntary sector and we have meetings next week to discuss the viability of that. In taking that forward that would have to be sustainable because we would not want to put elderly people through any more upset.”

Mr Harwood stressed nobody who currently receives a service from Norfolk County Council would be left without a service, even if the changes are agreed.

Andrew Boswell, leader of the Green group, raised concern that the vital preventative work those centres provide in spotting symptoms of dementia would be lost if they did close.

Consultation over the changes is ongoing, with more than 1,000 documents sent out and people given until March to have their say on the proposals.

The council is also asking people to comment on proposals to provide more dementia and re-ablement care at Cranmer House in Fakenham, Cromer's Benjamin Court, Laburnum Grove in Thetford, Humberstone House in Gorleston and The Lawns in Great Yarmouth.

A decision on the future of the services will then be made by Norfolk County Council's cabinet when it meets on June 14.

How will you be affected if the day centres close? Tell us by writing to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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