Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public


To receive questions from members of the public who wish to ask a general question in respect of matters within the Council’s area of responsibility or influence.


Subject to the Chair’s discretion, members of the public may ask one question and one supplementary question, which should relate to the original question and answered received.


Members of the Council may also ask questions under this agenda item.



(1)          A member of the public explained she had only learnt of these proposals on the 8th May, 2018 of the action to be taken with the closure of Parkhill Lodge.  She expressed shock the family had faced when learning the accommodation used by her sister may be closing.  She had attended a meeting at the Holiday Inn, but there appeared to be no one advocating for service users against the closures or proposing alternative options or repairs to buildings.


She was passionate for her sister’s welfare as she would struggle with any proposed move from Parkhill Lodge due to her health and being institutionalised.   She appreciated that some changes needed to be made, but wanted to ensure that her sister would continue to receive the highest level of care she had always received.


Councillor Roche, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, confirmed Parkhill Lodge had been added late into the report and due to this it was recommended by Scrutiny that further consultation was required on Parkhill Lodge’s future.


In a supplementary question the member of the public expressed her concern as she had read recommendations that the home would close during 2019/2020, but because of findings in April closure may be initiated sooner.  She requested that as part of the further consultation all family members of service users should be fully informed.


Councillor Roche confirmed an earlier closure had been talked about, but this was due to some issues with some of the utilities.  Once the recommendation to further consult on the future of Parkhill Lodge had been accepted, families and service users would be informed.


(2)  A member of the public asked what had been the response and reactions to the recommendations in the report by people with learning disabilities and autism, the service users.


Councillor Roche confirmed the report set out the consultation details and involved in a series of mediums talking to service users.


Janine Moorcroft, Head of Service, confirmed the details of the consultation process which involved talking about various options with stakeholders, service users etc., including proposed closure of some facilities, the timelines and what may happen.  Following the publication of the report it was not considered appropriate to engage with service users further until a decision had been made.  However, once a decision was made on the recommendations of the report it was planned to create an easy read version that would be cascaded to service users and their families and to work closely as to what this would mean to them.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked about the timeframes and if this would include feeding back to the service users with learning disabilities and autism as she was fearful services would start to be closed and service users would be unaware what was happening.


Janine Moorcroft explained that once the meeting had concluded and able to take recommendations forward there would be further communication with service users and families to ensure proper plans were put in place to full ascertain what was needed in the future.


The Strategic Director for Adult Care, Housing and Public Health explained that if and when any decisions were taken individual assessments would take place.  This would involve discussions with the individual and people involved in their lives within an individual process rather than a group process alongside work by provider services.


(3)  A member of the public, who was a relative of a person residing in Parkhill Lodge and attending Addison Day Centre, asked if consideration had really been given to service users’ health and wellbeing and the impact this would have on their lives if these services closed.  It was disgraceful that there had been little communication at Parkhill as this was a massive decision that affected people’s lives.  Other Councils had tried this approach and come full circle.  The decision focused around finances, but it was far more expensive to run direct payments and in addition there was very limited availability for personal carers.


Councillor Roche had explained the position with regards to Parkhill and could not pre-judge the Cabinet’s decision.  He was in support of further consultation.  The member of the public had referred to all Councils trying this approach and reverting back; this was not the case and some Councils had actually put their day care services out to tender.  The Council was simply recommending decommissioning of buildings and providing individual services instead.  With regards to direct payments being more expensive to run this was not the case and only one option that would be available.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked if service users could be advised of alternatives for day care with a proper list on what was available with full costs as some of these services were not affordable to people on benefits. 


Councillor Roche confirmed details on agencies would be made available, but emphasised this was not about cost or care.


The Strategic Director for Adult Care, Housing and Public Health addressed the concerns about the health and wellbeing of service users and the need for empathy which was central to everything being undertaken.  It was important to the service to ensure this process was done right with the transition being done properly and sensitively with work with the individual and family members. 


Carers strongly asked for a directory and this had been taken as an action from the Carers’ Meeting on Thursday and would be produced over the next few weeks so all service users could access.  Decisions could then be made as Councillor Roche indicated direct payments were not for everyone.


(4)  A member of the public wanted to speak up for Quarryhill, which was an excellent facility and well run by staff.  This building was not old, but fit for purpose.  There had been plans to extend the building with hoist rooms, but these plans have clearly been shelved.


Councillor Roche pointed out that this report was not about closing Addison and Oaks it was about how the Council could work with people with learning disabilities to help improve the service, to improve their lives and raise aspirations.  It was not primarily about the buildings at all.


(5)   A member of the public referred to her own son who attended Addison Day Centre and Kiveton Outreach.  She pointed out that closing date centres and respite care did not make financial sense and in the longer term could cost the Council more money.  She made reference to Page 5, Appendix B and drew comparisons of 64 young people who lived at home with parents attending Addison 5 days a week for a minimum of 35 hours at a cost of £7.00 and those in residential care for 7 days a week which was over 168 hours.  This was 5 times more and at a much greater cost.  The shared lives options would not work and various points had been made at the meeting about this on Thursday.  This would transfer the care of these young people back onto parents as carers, which could leave them exhausted. 


The member of the public also drew comparisons with her own son who also attended Treefields for respite care.  At Treefields there were 6 beds.  This was a fit for purpose venue which was refurbished in 2010 and looked after 50 people.  There was no comparison against the cost of 6 beds in full time residential care and it took a lot of effort and energy to look after someone with a disability.  The member of the public asked if the Council could please reconsider the options and look again as the decisions being made as this would devastate people’s lives.


Councillor Roche confirmed he had visited the 2 respite centres being mentioned and had been advised by staff that they were unsuitable, not just for wheelchair use, but in caring for the people who used those centres effectively.  They were fine as ordinary homes, but the majority of the respite care was commissioned from other centres.  There were sufficient respite places already in the community.  In financial terms the cost for these places to the customer was subsidised by the Council and transport was also provided.  This decision was not about finance, but about providing an individualised approach.


The Leader asked if further information could be provided on the capacity for shared lives and how this would be increased to ensure places were available over the next few years.


Councillor Roche was aware a shared lives event was to be arranged in the Maltby/Wickersley area, but pointed out that shared lives was only one approach within the report.


The Strategic Director further explained that over the next 12 months a campaign would be launched with the Shared Lives Team providing more insight into how people were employed/trained and the options available.  Some local authorities had the shared lives work as an external offer, but Rotherham had theirs as an internal offer and would ensure that the information was widely shared and made available. 


In a supplementary comment the member of the public urged Cabinet Members to have some compassion for the young people and the carers before everything was shut in 18 months’ time.


(6)  A member of the public described how her son attended Oaks Day Centre and had done so for the past 9 years.  This change in future of day services commenced about 20 months ago and in that 20 months nothing new had been heard and no alternatives had been offered.  Upon personal investigation there appeared to be very little available for families other than Angel Nook. 


The member of the public expressed her frustration over wasted money and resources with little outcome.  She had come to this important meeting, but was sad to learn she was no further on or wiser for the future of the young people, many of whom had complex needs and would struggle with plans to integrate as part of the community.


The member of the public thought today she would have clearer answers, but 2 years on she was still living within this uncertainty for the young people’s futures.  She found it soul destroying and only those that were involved with the care of these young people knew the actual impact on people’s lives if these services were closed.  Her own son had a happy persona, but would not cope with community-based provision.  He had made friends at his building-based provision, which he would now lose.  Oaks was a happy place and it was inevitable that places would be lost.  It all boiled down to money.  She was interested in the list of provision because as far as she could see there were very little choice available.


The Leader noted the valuable point made by the member of the public about the availability of other services in the community and asked if the Cabinet Member could elaborate on about the plans to assist families like hers.


Councillor Roche confirmed there were a number organisations being run by former members of staff from Addison and Oaks and would ensure a directory of services was provided.  He shared information about a number of case studies of people with learning difficulties and their involvement in the community catalyst programme and the positive messages coming forward.


Janine Moorcroft, Head of Service, confirmed the community catalyst project was now in its second year and there had been some success in terms of the alterative provision now available for customers to move into.


She shared information on the 30 Oaks customers who had moved onto other provision.  There had been some discussion at the meeting on Thursday with regard those people with more complex needs and how some would still require safe-building bases.  The report did identify that this kind of provision would still be required, but would require further development on what shape and form this would take to meet the needs of those individuals.  Community catalyst projects would be closely worked with commissioning colleagues to ensure the market was ready and part of the process.


Councillor Roche pointed out the report did make it clear and recognised that there would still be people with complex needs requiring a building-based approach.


(7)  A member of the public referred to the numbers of housing developments in Rotherham and the new ones coming forward.  This year marked the 10 year anniversary of when Chesterhill Avenue, Thrybergh was knocked down and even longer since Whinney Hill was demolished.  At the time Councillor Sue Ellis, Cabinet Member, made a number of promises about the regeneration.  In 2013 Keepmoat were brought forward as partners and a plan put forward to build 260 homes including 15 Council homes.  On the website it indicated that building was due to start in 2016 and he asked what was happening and why the delay.


Councillor Read confirmed no-one was available to answer the question, but would ensure the member of the public received an appropriate answer in writing.


In a supplementary question the member of the public asked in the intervening 2 years since 2016 Dalton/Thrybergh had lost its last public house.  A few hundred yards away from this development the Dalton Progressive Club had closed, on the edge of the development the last Post Office had closed and at the centre the closure of the Thrybergh Legion Club.  There were many businesses that were struggling to survive that could do with the extra 600 people that this development would bring and asked given the delay how the Council was going learn from it and what it was going to do to support the businesses in Thrybergh who were struggling with the delay.


Councillor Read confirmed that a full response on the details of the housing development would be provided in writing.