One of the most depressing parts of the four years I spent on West Sussex County Council was knowing how little we could do to stop the year-on-year cuts to social care for elderly residents. Ensuring that senior citizens who are no longer able to take care of themselves aren’t left to rot seems to me to be one of the most basic duties of civilised society, yet while lifespans keep getting longer the UK is failing to meet the needs of our elder people.
Considerable work over recent years has gone into building community structures, such as the internationally-recognised Dementia-Friendly Crawley, to enable people to maintain their independence for longer. Unfortunately, even the most effective community provision cannot make up for cuts to Adult Social Care. The North of the county is already under-resourced in terms of full-time care places, now Crawley’s day care places are about to take a hit.
West Sussex County Council have announced plans to close the day centre currently operating at Maidenbower Community Centre, a referral-only service, potentially leaving dozens of our elderly residents and carers without the support they need to avoid being forced into a care home. Any re-provision of that service elsewhere raises questions over access and future capacity growth, questions which have not yet been answered.
Worse. Various services currently operate alongside the day centre at Maidenbower, helping to assessing and support the needs of users and carers. The closure of the centre potentially disperses these teams, at minimum reducing access to the high-needs groups they currently serve.
It’s hard to see how county even stand to make a saving from the changes being proposed. Maidenbower Community Centre is owned by Crawley Borough Council with West Sussex County Council holding a 60 year lease for the majority of the centre. That lease won’t expire until 2056 and in the meantime they’re required to pay for all running and maintenance costs on that part of the building. Given that they’re already paying for the facility, surely they might as well use it to ensure the needs of our senior citizens don’t go unmet.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council