PEOPLE in private care homes across Worcester- shire will be stopped from having trips to council-run day care centres under plans to save £1.1 million.
A wide range of changes are being made to services for residents with learning disabilities – with the aim of encouraging more people to get out into the community.
Rather than ferry disabled residents to existing day centre sites every day, they will be offered up to 86 alternative “low cost” activities alongside the general public such as swimming or trips to the gym.
The budget for day care facilities for disabled people is £4.2 million a year, but under the change £1.1 million will be slashed from it.
Under the change, seven new drop-in centres will be created across Worcester- shire to publicise activities people with learning disabilities can do in the community.
Funding will be reduced to existing day care centres in anticipation of less people coming through the doors.
And council chiefs say an existing “anomaly”, where private care home residents routinely access council day care facilities, will be stopped.
There will also eventually be four new specialist centres established in Worcester, Bromsgrove, Wychavon and the Wyre Forest to offer traditional day care activities.
Bosses say there are no decisions made yet on closing any buildings, and that if that were to happen it would require a fresh consultation.
They have set a target date of 18 months for es- tablishing a “new model” for day care services and meeting the savings target.
The move was approved by the Conservative cabinet on Thursday, despite bitter complaints from disabled people and their representatives.
Sam Waltho, from Wor- cestershire LINk, a body which signposts disabled people to services, said: “The county council has some very caring officers and councillors who are under tremendous pressure to balance the books.
“But implementing these changes as they stand will only add to future problems, which for some very vulnerable people could end in tragic circumstances – nobody wants that.”
During consultation over the summer, one key worry was that many disabled people fear losing friendships with fellow sufferers who visit day care buildings.
Councillor Adrian Hard- man, the leader of the county council, said: “I know how difficult this is for some carers and disabled people, who see these as unwelcome changes.
“But we have involved carers, users and carers representatives as much as possible. I do understand their concerns, but the fact is many councils moved to this way of operating 10 years ago.”