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Concern for future of day care centre

THE future of a Cotswold day care centre for the elderly is being discussed at a meeting today amid fears for its future funding. The Highlands Day Care Centre in Burford Road, Chipping Norton, provides care for up to 88 elderly people from the town and surrounding area, four days a week. However, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) which, in common with other local authorities is facing a financial squeeze, has indicated it may not be able to continue its 30,000 contribution to the centre.

Centre trustees say that without this grant, charges to the elderly people attending the centre might have to double from 6.50 a day or, in the worst case, the centre may have to close. Trustee Monica Beadle said they would not know OCCs funding decision until September but admitted things were a bit dicey. Members are collected by one of the centres two minibuses and are looked after by a team of professional carers and volunteers. They are given tea, coffee, lunch and tea, encourage to take part in activities and, in some cases, given the chance to have a bath. Many of them wouldnt be bothered to cook for themselves. Some of the clients we have are in the early stages of dementia, some are poor sighted and need help and support, said Mrs Beadle.

Former Chipping Norton GP Dr Sheila Parker, who with her husband Dr Bruce Parker was instrumental in setting up Highlands 17 years ago, has organised todays meeting to discuss the way forward. Whats so awful is people are saying Highlands is closing. There are a lot of rumours. If I can help it, its not going to close. It can provide a safe haven for people and respite for carers, said Dr Parker, who has invited a regional representative of AgeUK, formerly Age Concern, to attend the meeting at Chipping Norton School.

Trustee and secretary Eve Coles said recent publicity about the centres plight had resulted in nine potential new clients being referred to the centre. Im hoping we can prove there is a real need for this centre, said town and district councillor Mrs Coles. County council spokeswoman Lisa Mendonca said: The county council will seek to modernise its day services to give people greater choice in how these services are delivered. Discussions are taking place about how this might happen. The future of our current day centres will depend on which models of service go forward. Day services will be preserved and the aim is to deliver better outcomes tailored to individual need and in a style that is most suited to lives in the second decade of the 21st century.




Some serious challenges ahead at Highlands Day Centre

Thanks to Peter Barbour for this account of last week's AGM:

The AGM for Highlands Day Centre was held on Tuesday June 29th in the spacious day room at Highlands. It was as well that there was a spacious room as there are doubts about the future of the Day Centre and the attendance was a record. The meeting followed the normal procedure and the first notable news came with the chairmans report. Pat Lake spoke of the relationship of Highlands with Age Concern, now merged with Help the Age and renamed AGE UK. Highlands [which also operates the CATS outings] is independent but part of the AGE UK Federation. He went on to explain that the County Council, which in the past has subsidised Highlands to the extent of per annum, is reconsidering the organisation of day centres for the elderly. New centres in the larger towns, which excludes Chipping Norton, are to be set up  Next we learnt that attendances at Highlands had been falling, Capacity was up to twenty two persons for four days of the week but now there were on average only 35 regulars several of whom attended more than once a week. This had led to an operating loss of in the year to 31 March 2010.

The current charge to users was 6.50. To continue operating the charge would have to be raised to about 15 because of the underutilisation and in view of the current national financial stringency  Pat said it was likely that the subsidy would be reduced or even completely withdrawn next April and discussions were continuing and the outcome would not be known before September. Various possibilities were being considered in committee, for example transferring the services to the lower Town Hall. Services include transport morning and afternoon from home to centre, day care,  morning coffee, cooked lunch, and afternoon tea..

The Treasurer, Mark Roach spoke on the accounts repeating the details already mentioned and adding that the loss of was roughly offset by a recovery in the value of Highlands investments. These include the value of the freehold, still on the books at the price paid on acquisition 20 years ago and the investments - over 500,000 at book value and actually worth considerably more

Discussion with the floor followed the acceptance of the report and accounts and next business was elections to the committee. Pat Lake announced that with immediate effect he was standing down as chairman - presumably he will still look after the CATS bookings  His resignation was followed by that of the treasurer [who would continue to keep the books till a replacement was elected or co-opted] and the secretary.  The only position refilled was that of secretary, Eve Coles offering herself.  A vote of thanks was moved for Pat Lake and the resigning members

It is urgent that a new chairman and treasurer are found to see that the service offered by Highlands is not lost and that the valuable assets invested in this charity remain in Chipping Norton