Officer presentation on what the Holmhurst Centre currently does and the proposals for its future and that of its current users.
Ray Boyce, Head of Older People Services, informed the meeting about the latest developments around Holmhurst Day Centre which provided day care mostly for older people with dementia. He went on to say that closing a centre was always a sad and difficult decision, which had been taken in light of the council’s grants having been cut. The attendees at Holmhurst, which had not run at full capacity and was expensive to run, would be transferred to the Fred Francis centre. This was nearby, had spare capacity for the former attendees of Holmhurst, and was able to offer Sunday opening. The closure had been decided after consultation with service users and carers. It ensured that no one was missing out. New arrangements would also include personal budgets, so some services could be delivered away in people’s homes.
The chair expressed his concern that when the budget papers were published, the closure of the centre had been included, while the consultation had still been in progress. This had upset residents. He asked about the capacity of the Fred Francis centre in future years, what would happen to the specialist team and cases from SLAM (South London and Maudsley) Trust, and whether the needs of those attending Holmhurst were matched by the services offered at Fred Francis. He went on to ask whether the money from the sale of Holmhurst would be reinvested in the Fred Francis centre.
Ray Boyce said that the information had been published as part of the budgeting process and had been out of the hands of his team. The council had a very good relationship with SLAM who were considering relocating their specialist services currently housed on the first floor at Holmhurst to Fred Francis. Fred Francis would ideally also be improved, but this would probably not be possible straightaway. He was unable to say what would happen to the capital receipts from the sale of Holmhurst, but said he would like to see more community based services and assisted housing.
Residents pointed out that because of the transferees from Holmhurst, there may not be any capacity at Fred Francis in the future, and that many whose care needs were not caused by severe dementia would not receive care. This would be made worse by the fact that many voluntary sector organisations had had their grants cut, and would not be able to pick up any slack.
Ray Boyce responded that the criteria for receiving care were nationally agreed ones. He went on to explain that services had to look at how they were delivered, and cited the example of St Christopher’s hospice who had managed to expand their hours of operation by changing their model of service delivery. Creative solutions were needed.
There was a discussion about personal budgets, and concerns were raised about the size of these budgets, the falling levels of service they may produce and the fact that dementia sufferers would need support from someone else in order to manage their budgets. Ray said that personal budgets were an important issue and he offered to come back to a future meeting to talk about them.
An idea was floated to use the revenue from the sale of the centre to create a new hub for older people’s services on the site of Dulwich hospital.
The chair summarised that he was disappointed at the way the consultation had been handled and that concerns remained about whether Fred Francis centre was adequate for future demand.