Work to modernise learning disability support is being brought forward with the closure of the Six Acres Day Centre in Taunton next year.
Somerset County Council and the Discovery social enterprise are committed to a more inclusive, creative approach to Day Services. The nine Day Centres across the county are being reviewed with the aim of more involvement with the wider community, choice and flexibility.
Some, such as the Seahorses centre in Minehead, will be developed where they are if there is scope for change, others will close with local options for community-based support developed.
The County Council owns the Six Acres site and has agreed to sell the site, bringing forward the change in Taunton day services while generating income for the authority.
Council staff are completing reviews of the care needs of everyone who receives support at Six Acres and will work with them, their families and Discovery to find suitable, community-based and creative ways of meeting their needs.
Everyone’s needs will be assessed and met – including those who need significant one-to-one support – though in many cases it will be delivered in a different way. It is expected that the building will be closed by the end of March, 2019.
Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet member for Adult Services, said: “We understand people will have an attachment to Six Acres, but have been clear all along that that our aim is to modernise what remains a largely traditional service.
“Change is always difficult, but we believe that this will mean support that is more inclusive, more flexible and offers more choice – as we are seeing develop in Minehead.
“The buildings-based service that were transferred to Discovery needed to be reviewed and modernised, and this is no reflection on the staff at Six Acres at elsewhere who work very hard for the people they care for.
“This is an opportunity to move things forward in Taunton sooner than originally planned, as well as generate income at a time of the well-documented pressures on its budgets.”
Six Acres currently provides Day Services for just over 90 people with a wide spectrum of learning disabilities. This can range from one or two hours a week to more significant periods of time, often as respite for families and carers. Activities and support are largely confined to the building and immediate surroundings.
There are other options in the local area such as micro-providers, community agents to link people into existing community options, employment opportunities and life skills training from the voluntary sector.
The council will, in tandem with Discovery, explore options for buildings-based support in the local community for people that may need it, as well as encouraging tailored support that meets people’s need in the way that suits them.
Of the other day centres in Somerset, Seahorses in Minehead; Colliers Court in Frome; and St James in Yeovil will continue to be used and developed as community hubs.
The Fiveways in Yeovil will be closed and other more suitable, less isolated buildings in the Yeovil area are being sought.
The centres in Chard, Glastonbury and Bridgwater will continue as they are and developed in the short-term, with longer-term decision made based on what is learnt from Minehead, Frome and Yeovil.