Families and users lose fight to save Chichester’s Wrenford Centre

Protest against proposed closure of Chichester's Wrenford Centre back in June
Protest against proposed closure of Chichester's Wrenford Centre back in June

The fight to save a Chichester day centre for adults with learning difficulties has come to an end as services are due to be moved elsewhere.

West Sussex County Council held a consultation on the future of its in-house adult social care services in May and as part of the proposals the Wrenford Centre in Terminus Road, would close.

Although the council said the changes will not see any reductions in the levels of service, families of users described the possibility of the facility being closed as ‘heartbreaking’.

The council’s overall strategy was approved this week and will see Wrenford Centre users moved into the Chestnuts Day centre in Bognor Regis and Chichester’s Judith Adams by June 2019.

These buildings currently run services for elderly residents.

Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health, said: “I understand that changes bring with them a degree of apprehension, but having spoken with many families across the county I am assured that these new services will meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents in a far more practical way.

“Over the last couple of years there has been extensive engagement with those people who use our services as well as their families and carers, and these plans were drawn up with their best interests in mind.

“I delayed taking a decision on these proposals earlier in the summer in order to speak to more people about how the changes would affect them. Having taken into account the feedback from those involved, I am assured that these changes offer the best way forward for everyone as well as ensuring that our services are also fit for purpose.”

The council says the decision will lead to a number of changes that will make some services more accessible for residents. This includes changing the way it delivers specialist residential and day services for people in the community.

The changes, which focus on the needs of each individual, are designed to better support the 900 people who use these services by developing the skills and confidence they require in order to live as independently as possible.

By helping people become more actively engaged in their local communities, the council says its aim is to improve their overall health and wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of their becoming isolated.

Throughout the five-year implementation phase of these plans West Sussex County Council says it is committed to working closely with the people who use these services, to ensure they feel actively engaged and in control of any changes to the way they access support.

Everyone affected will receive a review of their care needs to determine the type and level of support each individual needs to live a full and active life; families and carers can also be involved in these reviews.

According to an officers’ report: “There is a need to adapt the way the council delivers services so that they can better meet the needs of people in West Sussex in the future. This is due to the fact that society is changing and people are living longer. How the resources are currently organised and buildings used no longer fits the changing needs of the people who use the service.

“If the council does nothing, the current building stock will need an estimated £15m spend in the next ten years in order to maintain it as it is – this would not make them any more accessible or change the way they can be used.

“Whilst these services are currently separated as ‘older people’ and ‘learning disability’ services the reality is that these services span the range of ages and diagnoses (including an increasing number of older people with a learning disability and a diagnosis of dementia). The service needs to be flexible, responsive and above all see people for who they are, as well as what they can and wish to do.

“By changing the way the council organises the service and how resources are used (staff, buildings and transport) the service will have increased ability to support people to build on their strengths, meet people’s needs irrespective of their ‘label’ and maintain what people can already do.”

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