Council urged to keep Hawick day care centre open

The Katherine Elliot Day Centre in Hawick's Howdenbank.
The Katherine Elliot Day Centre in Hawick's Howdenbank.

Council chiefs are being urged to reconsider plans that could lead to the closure of Hawick’s Katherine Elliot Day Centre.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee voted in June to move its day care provision to what it calls a local area co-ordination model.

That consists of service users being paired with a local area co-ordinator tasked with advising them of services such as volunteer-led social centres or dementia cafes, rendering council-run day care centres surplus to requirements.

Those plans have been given a mixed reception, however, and at the latest full meeting of the council, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer asked: “I represent a specific group of mainly elderly vulnerable people who are alarmed, worried and anxious at the prospect of council-run day care services being withdrawn to be replaced by local area co-ordination.

“While there is evidence that some service users do benefit from using self-directed support, there is equally a large number, including family carers, who depend on regularly attending our day care centres. 

“The threatened closure of the Katherine Elliot day care centre in Hawick has been met with disbelief and abhorrence. 

“We have been told that this centre will continue to remain open if new care plans do not meet individual needs.

“Can the executive member give an assurance to those service users in Hawick and their dedicated carers that the Katherine Elliot day care centre will remain open in such circumstances?”

Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston, the local authority’s executive member for adult social care, told him: “The day centre consultation is predicated on the fact that no changes will happen until we’re confident that users and their carers are assessed and their needs met through alternatives. 

“We are currently engaged with people, and their carers, to discuss what care will look like for each individual.

“The implementation plan allows for additional development time in Teviotdale. In addition to this phase, the executive report also make plans additional arrangements for people with more complex needs or those who have dementia.”

Officers initially claimed that decommissioning the council’s day services would save £208,000 this financial year and deliver a permanent £350,000 saving from next year.

However, a delay in recruiting new staff needed before the switch to the new model, has reduced the projected saving this year to just £50,000.

Following up his question in the hope of securing reassurance about the Howdenbank centre’s future from Mr Weatherston, Mr McAteer said: “I ask this question on behalf of the Teviotdale day centre support group, which has been created in order to combat the proposed threat .

“I know that you care a great deal about support and care in the Borders, but the question was very explicit.

“It was to reassure those that occupy the Katherine Elliot Day Centre in Hawick. I don’t think you’ve answered that question and I can understand why. 

“Can I just ask again that you and your group reconsider this position?”

Mr Weatherston replied: “The position is clear. We will work with clients and relatives to ensure they get the best service available. 

“I think it’s important to not get totally obsessed with the building. Obviously, in this case, the building is important and I respect there is a higher number in that building than in other places, but the important thing is that clients get the best service available.”

“This has worked in other places in the Borders.

“I’m quite happy to work with Hawick colleagues to get the best service possible for our clients, but I don’t think the building should be the obsession here.”