City councillors want to ruin a good system
I AM writing to endorse what Ivor Needs wrote on February 7 about Day Centre closures. I also wrote to mayor George Ferguson. This is the email I sent to him on January 11.
"I am writing to you in the hope that common sense will prevail and your wisdom will overturn the plans to close day centres for handicapped service users. My husband and I have a handicapped daughter who attends Shirelink Day Centre. This is due to be closed on the July 13. Shirelink is part of Greenway Centre which was originally Greenway School. This is all council-owned property. Shirelink pay rent to Greenway Centre and Greenway pay rent to the council. Shirelink costs the council very little to run so why the need to close it? The reason is the council want to privatise all day centres to save money. It denies this is the case and says the new system is modernising. The so- called new system will cost a great deal more money. They are causing a great deal of upset to service users and staff who are happy with the system as it is. The staff are looking for jobs in other places. The service users are unhappy because they do not understand what is happening and see different faces when staff leave. None of them has a designated social worker any more who they could talk with about their situation. A social worker can only be available in a crisis!"
All day centres are in the same situation. Shirelink is like a family unit which will be split up leaving each member isolated. The health and social care team are unwilling to recognise this.
I spoke at the same cabinet meeting as Mr Needs, where the closures were passed.
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Councillor Jon Rogers and his team were determined to go ahead without listening to people on ground level. They kept saying they held consultation meetings. They did, but they never listened to other points of view because their minds were already made up.
At this meeting Glenise Morgan took over as cabinet councillor for health and social care from Jon Rogers. She has, to my knowledge, never visited a day centre and the staff have no idea who she is.
I went to a meeting on August 15 at Shirelink where five members of the health and social care team came to tell us, parents, carers and staff about the closures and only one spoke, Verity Bryant. What was the purpose of the other four? We already knew about the closures. We have been told enough times.
I went to a care management meeting at City Hall on December 14 which lasted from 10am until 3pm. Most of the time the speakers expounded the wonderful work of health and social care in Bristol. Mike Hennessey, service director, spoke at great lengths on this subject. I stood up and declared my anxiety about the council refusing to listen to the view of carers. I also said I and many others are anxious that service users no longer have a designated social worker and that care homes are only checked once a year and sometimes not even that. They should be checked on a monthly basis and have spot checks. All staff should have good references and speak good English. Mike Hennessey said this was not possible. If this is not done we will have many more Winterbourne View disasters in the not too distant future. Carers are not trained and are poorly paid so are not of a high standard. Everything is about saving money at vulnerable people's expense.
The health and social care team has enlisted 12 new social workers to asses service users at the day centres. Where is the money coming from to pay these people? They will assess each service user and talk about options with each one. These social workers will have never met the service users and carers before, so how can they make an assessment in one short meeting? The service users like our daughter no longer have a key worker at Shirelink because they have either left or gone to Lanercost Centre. Our daughter, Jane, is unable to make decisions which will affect her future and will answer "yes" when she means "no" and vice versa, depending on how the question is phrased. It takes more than a brief visit to understand each service user. They are all very upset and anxious about the pending closure and the splitting up of friendships they have formed over the years. What the health and social care team continue to fail to understand is they like to go out together in groups to garden centres, Ashton Court, the Forest of Dean etc. They do not want drop-ins, which are useless, and hubs.
I was asked this afternoon by two of the service users if I could stop Shirelink being closed.
I know all the service users at Shirelink as I always pick up our daughter and my husband takes her in the morning. I said I was writing to our new mayor as he appears to have more sense than any of the council members who want to ruin a good system and spend a lot of unnecessary money and in doing so cause a great deal of misery.