‘Please allow us to reopen vital day centre now’

A Hawick-based day care service which provides vital support for the elderly and much-needed respite for their carers is being prevented from reopening by stonewalling Scottish Borders Council bosses, a campaigner has claimed.

Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 5:14 pm
Councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer at Hawick's Katharine Elliot Day care centre. (PHOTO: BILL McBURNIE)
Councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer at Hawick's Katharine Elliot Day care centre. (PHOTO: BILL McBURNIE)

The Katharine Elliot Centre at Howdenbank supports people with learning disabilities and incorporates also Teviot Day Service, attended by older folk with dementia.

Scottish Borders Council earmarked the centre for closure last year but campaigning from the Teviot Day Service Support Group gained it a reprieve, before it closed in March due to lockdown.

In August, the Scottish Government issued guidance for the ‘safe return of day services for adults’- but the Hawick centre remains closed amid ongoing safety concerns.

Teviot campaign co-ordinator Sean Elliot believes the pandemic has given the council the ‘perfect opportunity’ to suspend the centre and ‘find any excuse not to reinstate it in any form’.

He said: “So businesses up and down the country are able to modify their operations, procedures and premises to make them safe, but SBC are unable to do similarly for the Katharine Elliot Centre?

“It doesn’t take much for us to think that this fits in very nicely with the council’s original objective to close down every day service in the Borders.

“One of the biggest problem is the relatives looking after the service users who are no longer getting any respite. As a result of that it has accelerated the process of the older people needing to go into 24-hour care.”

Mr Elliot has received the backing of Hawick councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer.

Mr Marshall said: “Day care patients and carers within the town are enduring a great deal of unnecessary suffering as a result of the protracted closure.”

Mr McAteer added: “There is absolutely no reason that with the appropriate safety measures in place the centre should not reopen providing much needed support and a lifeline for many Hawick families.”

Rob McCulloch-Graham, the council’s chief officer Health and Social Care, said: “Managers and staff teams across the Health and Social Care Partnership remain extremely conscious of the effect that Covid-19 continues to have on the most vulnerable in our communities and their carers, and are doing as much as they can to alleviate its impact. We have recently reopened our residential respite beds in Saltgreens in Eyemouth and St Ronan’s in Innerleithen and our local area co-ordinators and RVS social centre co-ordinators maintain contact with people in receipt of their services.

“Going forward we are looking closely at what may be possible in terms of opening some form of social centre day support for our learning disability and mental health communities, as well as older people, based firmly within Scottish Government guidance linked to the number of households that can meet safely indoors.”