From: Samuel Holmes, Director, Radfield Home Care, Starrs Green Lane, Battle
I am appalled by East Sussex County Council voting to agree the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre in Hastings and the Charter Centre in Bexhill. Both provide irreplaceable services to vulnerable older people and the impact will be devastating to the local community.
The council justifies the closures due to ‘low attendance’ and ‘high unit cost’ but the fact is they do not provide sufficient funding for people to include a day centre place as part of a package of care.
I am sure there are plenty of people and their carers who would benefit from attending one of the centres, even one day a week, if they were allocated the funds to do so.
The council proposes that alternative, comparable services are available, this simply isn’t true. Isabel Blackman is open 365 days a year and can offer personal care support to people who do not have facilities at home.
It also offers meals and flexible half or full days which are incredibly important for carers seeking respite.
There is no alternative, either existing or planned in the local area.
My own experience of dementia care is that there is often an assumption that people living with the disease are not interested in the company of others, or that they do not need friends.
This could not be further from the truth – to lose contact with one’s friends is devastating for anyone, but people with dementia are particularly vulnerable to the mental health issues that come from isolation and a lack of acceptance.
Local services are particularly important to vulnerable people, yes: day centres provide a home away from home for many; homeless hostels are a hub for those sleeping rough on the streets; playgroups allow parents and their children to interact and support one another. These are specialist, preventative services that have adapted and developed strategies that are directly tailored to our local communities.
All of this makes me wonder what kind of society the Tory-led council has planned for us in the future.
Its supposed dedication to “hardworking families” is tied to conservative notions of the nuclear family and little beyond: Living well isn’t just about blood ties – many of the people that you meet in your local community, with whom you share news, a game of chess or a cup of tea, or a jigsaw puzzle, become like your family. Where are people to go? As we lose our services, we are losing our humanity and ability to connect with each other.