Slough council plans to shake-up day services receives backlash

A planned shake-up of day services in Slough has been met with opposition by residents, who fear that changes to the sector will create ‘massive problems’ for already-struggling families.

Slough Borough Council (SBC) launched a consultation earlier this summer on its proposals to change the way it offers day services for older people, and those with learning disabilities.

The survey, which ended on August 6, sought people’s views on offering these facilities in an alternative way, as SBC seeks to make savings in light of its struggling finances.

The authority says that it is looking to ‘rely less’ on day centres to meet people’s needs, and instead explore other ways of supporting people, such as ‘accessing services run by community groups and charities’, or ‘using personal assistants’.

It is considering the future of all council-run services for older people and people with learning disabilities, including:

W Priors Day Service & Phoenix Day Service, a day service for people with learning disabilties

W The Pines, a day service for older people

W Lavender Court, a residential service for people with learning disabilties

W Respond, a short-term breaks service.

SBC says that its plans aim to deliver a more ‘flexible and personalised’ support, relying less on providing services that are based at the day centres.

The council also wants to reduce its expenditure by circa £1.2million, through identifying alternatives to in-house provider services, and redirecting its budget to deliver ‘personalised support packages’.

Plans have been met with opposition from some residents, with a petition created demanding the council abandon its plans to review day services.

“The day and short break centres are vital for people with learning disabilities and autism,” the petition states.

“They provide social interactions, fun, learning, safety and stability in a way which cannot be replaced by the alternative arrangements the council proposes.”

It adds that the proposals would create ‘massive problems’ for families who are ‘already on the edge of mental breakdown’ after the COVID pandemic.

At the time of writing, the petition had garnered more than 800 signatures, and was due to run until yesterday (Thursday).

A Slough Borough Council spokeswoman said that ‘no decisions’ have yet been made, adding that it may be required to meet the needs of people ‘differently’.

“A consultation was sent out to all users of day centres and the replies will be taken into consideration,” she said.

“Each person registered to use a council run service will have a full re-assessment of need and our teams will work in partnership with them and their families to identify future arrangements.

“No decisions have been made as to what efficiencies will be made and these will be taken by the senior leadership teams over the next month, with a paper going to cabinet for consideration in September.

“We are committed to meeting the needs of local people, however this may need to be done differently.”

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