Family in plea to council to save Kirkintilloch day care centre for people with dementia

The family of a dementia sufferer is making a plea to halt the closure of a vital day care service – as an online petition to keep it gathers more than 1,600 supporters.

East Dunbartonshire Council had intended to fund a new day care and respite centre at Whitehill Court, Kirkintilloch, as part of a proposed new housing development in conjunction with Bield Housing Association

But at the end of last year, the council’s Health and Social Care Partnership (EDHSC) told Bield they were withdrawing funding for the planned centre and would progress a planning application for the new housing development only.

Isobel Carr, whose daughter set up the online petition, said: “I just can’t express how devastated I am about the closure of Whitehill Court.

“It’s so much more than just a facility. I am so angry.

“My husband has dementia and he is so relaxed and happy when he goes there.

“Its loss will be traumatic for the whole family. The carers there are wonderful and it is a lifeline for us”.

She added that many people she had spoken to had no idea the day care service was closing and she herself had not yet been offered alternative care.

Isobel said: “I believe some of the staff will be leaving before March and the centre will close at the end of June.”

A spokesperson for Bield said the original intention was to physically build a new day care and respite centre but this changed in late November last year when EDHSC shared with them that they did not have the funds to build it.

“As a consequence of this and the future unsuitability of facilities at Whitehill Court, EDHSCP wish to focus their day care provision at another site.”

Charlie Dickson, director of Housing & Care at Bield, added: “The EDHSCP decision to withdraw funding from Whitehill Court is extremely disappointing. We know it is a highly valued service. Regrettably, without the day care service we cannot operate Mary’s Kitchen and the evening service. These services were only sustainable if Whitehill remained fully funded”.

Mary’s Kitchen provided a restaurant style experience so that older people living with dementia can enjoy a meal out with their family in a safe and familiar setting.

Mr Dickson added Bield would work with EDHSCP to find alternative options for service users, whose well-being was of “paramount importance.”

Susan Manion, chief officer of EDHSCP, said they planned to re-provision day care and short breaks services for the 46 people at Whitehill Court, which had been rendered “no longer fit for purpose”, to improved facilities at Birdston Day Care centre at Milton of Campsie, which is provided by Pacific Care.

She added: “Firstly, I would like to emphasise there is no reduction in service, but a change in provision. We are improving our day care services providing more options based on individual preferences for care now and in the future.

“The re-provisioning of care will be based on assessed needs in discussions with the individuals and their families.

“We recognise change can be challenging, and service users and their carers will be fully involved in this change will ensure that we continue to deliver Older Peoples Day Care and the Short Breaks Services as effectively and efficiently as possible.”