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WYRE FOREST DAY SERVICE FOR ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES LIKELY TO CLOSE IN COST-SAVING COUNTY REVIEW

Wyre Forest’s Connect day service for adults with learning disabilities look likely to be axed as part of a county-wide review.

The service, based in Blackwell Street, Kidderminster, has been earmarked for closure in proposals drawn up by Worcestershire County Council’s adult services team. The proposal is now going to be subject to a formal three-month consultation.

The day service is currently used regularly by just seven adults with learning disabilities, usually for no more than two days a week, according to a report to the council’s Cabinet.

Closure would save around £150,000 a year.

A final report will be presented back to Cabinet later this year.

The Wyre Forest service is partly a victim of the range of other alternative services available for adults in the north of the county, the meeting heard.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, Cabinet member for Adult Services, said the Wyre Forest area had been “a leader in developing a range of learning disability services to give choice and opportunity for its residents.”

“Service users are starting to use choice to access different services, not necessarily council services, which give them a wider and richer life.”

The Wyre Forest service is the least cost effective of the seven Connects operating in the county.

A total of £4.2 million is spent on all day services for people with learning disabilities, including £2.3 million for council-run day services and the Connect short-term service.

A full pre-consultation process has already been held with staff, partner organisations, users and their families ahead of the formal review.

The council also said it intends to work with providers to develop options to reduce costs and generate more income from the other six Connect learning disability day services, Connect drop in services and Leisure Link.

In addition, the Cabinet voted to endorse plans to explore options for remodelling the short-term Connect service across the county. Again, the axe could fall in Wyre Forest, with the current drop-in service and reception desk relocated. If this was agreed, it would effectively signal the closure of the Connect premises.

The organisation Speakeasy NOW, a self advocacy charity run by people with learning disabilities, has carried out a pre-consultation engagement with users, families and staff across the county.

They saw 59 people in Connect, 61 people in Resource Centres, 70 people who use Leisure Link and 32 young people in schools.

Councillor Hardman added: “We have six other Connect Learning Disability services and we are developing options to produce more income, or cut costs, of those.

“We are also proposing to permanently relocate Connect Droitwich to Bromsgrove.”

He added: “What has been clear is that we operate in a very changing background in the nature and delivery of Learning Disability services. We want to use service users’ knowledge to develop services further and retain the trust of service users.”

Are you affected by the proposals? Contact Wyrelife in confidence on 0754 564 2583 to discuss your hopes for the future provision for adults with learning disabilities.

 

 

Jane Haynes
Former newspaper journalist and news editor, turned public sector PR, now studying for a Master's in multiplatform journalism. Wyrelife is a new, local investigative news website for Kidderminster, Bewdley, Stourport and Wyre Forest. My aim is to hold people and organisations to account to try to make my little bit of England a better informed, better place.
http://www.janerockhouse.wordpress.com

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