Is Jimmy Swinburne Centre at Risk?

It’s been suggested that the Jimmy Swinburne Day Centre on Cemetery Road, High Blantyre is at risk of closure. This article seeks to offer some facts and clarification.

Named after former Blantyre Councillor and Provost, Mr Jimmy Swinburne, the facility is relatively modern with a small outdoor area. It provides a number of organised activities in a group setting, providing a range of social, personal, therapeutic and recreational activities.

News has recently circulated that it may be at risk of closure despite increasingly good reports about the standard of care in the latest Care Inspectorate reports.

Cllr Bert Thomson told us, “I am very disappointed that myself or Councillor Mo Razzaq have not been consulted. We must protect the centre for future clients. There will be further meetings.”

Seeking answers, we sought further information and comments of South Lanarkshire Council and now have their reply. SLC Depute leader, Cllr Maureen Chalmers issued a a comprehensive reply:

Maureen commented, “In May 2019, South Lanarkshire Social Work Committee approved a proposal to review adult and older people’s day care services. There were several reasons for that review which are detailed in the Committee paper here.   Primarily, the way in which day care is provided has not changed since SLC was set up in 1996-7 but the choices people make about their care have changed significantly. 

We have 19 registered day care centres in South Lanarkshire mostly operating at 50-60% occupancy. The Jimmy Swinburne Centre is registered for 120 people and you will note in Appendix 1 of the Committee Report above, only 65 people were using the service in March 2019.  Blantyre has a relatively high number of people living with long term, multiple health conditions so understanding what they need, and their aspirations is important and if they don’t choose traditional day care then we need to be able to offer different options. The council spends more than £10m on day care for adults and older people so it is critical that the resources are used wisely to meet individual and local needs.  

20 years ago, the profile of people using day care services was quite different with people perhaps needing support with having a meal, social contact and personal care.   In the last few years, older people in day care services will have much more complex health care needs and around 80% will be people with a later stage dementia.  It is critical that our registered services can offer high quality care for people with dementia.  Current day care provision operates 10-4pm over five days. It may be more appropriate to offer a service across 7 days and for example, include early evening care which would support carers and families too.

Someone recently said to me: ‘a 65 year -old today is not the 65 year -old of 20 years ago.’  As a 60 something person, I would agree!  Since the implementation of self -directed support, people are using their funding to access other services and support options which offer more flexibility and choice, and this does not include traditional day care centres. 

We are all aware of the issues around social isolation and loneliness – which are not exclusive to older people, but loneliness is not a health condition although it can impact on or be caused by a health condition. I believe that loneliness can best be addressed within communities. We have some excellent community groups and facilities in Blantyre. The June Stewart Centre and TACT Hall, church groups, walking groups, knitting bees all offer social contact and support. The review which is underway will also consider how we build and develop more community options for people with low/ moderate care needs and which enable them to continue with hobbies and interests or take up new interests.  It would be good to have a local ‘blether’ about how we can achieve this. 

So, for these reasons and more, I think the review is timely. This is a comprehensive exercise which commenced last summer, with an update provided to Social Work Committee in December 2019 [which you can read at Item 11  here].  Another update was provided to local Councillors at our Hamilton Locality meeting with the Health & Social Care Partnership on the 22nd January. We were advised that more than 50 group discussions with people using day care, families, carers, day care staff, partners etc. had taken place.  Extensive research has also been undertaken to consider different ways of providing ‘day care’ support to adults and older people.  There are a couple of pilots underway in South Lanarkshire testing out different approaches. 

So, no decisions have been taken on the future of the Jimmy Swinburne Day Care Centre.

It is evident that reducing the number of traditional day care centres may be an option given the current occupancy rate but also clear that the intention is to find a broader based more flexible approach to providing care and support. Most important of all is that future services are based on the needs and aspirations of people who use them.

The review will conclude shortly, and elected members will be briefed again. Although this will ultimately be a decision for the SL Integrated Health and Social Care Joint Board, the options for consideration will be reported to Social Work Committee. As Depute Chair of that Committee, I would welcome your views of the options once published.

If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please get in touch and I will be happy to discuss and seek answers for you.”

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