NHS Isle of Wight has outlined its intention to make changes to the Learning Disability Day Services they have been providing under contract to Isle of Wight Council.
The changes include the closure of the Medina Centre and the commissioning of a new service which will require an extension to Meadowbrook to enable it to cater for individuals with specific healthcare needs.
The Council has given notice to the NHS that its funding for services at Medina Centre and Meadowbrook will cease by the end of May 2011. Isle of Wight Council currently contracts with NHS Isle of Wight for the provision of Social Care for a group of learning disability clients who receive day services at both Medina Centre and Meadowbrook. The Council is responding to national policy which requires Local Authorities to Transform Adult Social Care and introduce Personal Budgets. The Council will assess users with identified social care needs and, where they are eligible, allocate a Personal Budget. For some service users their social care needs will be met by the provider of their residential accommodation.
NHS Isle of Wight has reviewed the position and concluded that it cannot continue to provide the current service. The NHS will continue to fund an element of the service and in discussion with relatives and carers, detailed assessments of clients with identified healthcare needs will be undertaken to establish which clients may be suitable for the new service, to be offered at Meadowbrook.
At separate meetings on 21st June; staff, carers, relatives and some service users were advised of the planned changes. At present around 48 (full time employed) staff work in the services affected by the changes.
Martin Robinson, Associate Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability Services said: “Change can be difficult but the transformation agenda is a national one which will see individuals being given greater freedom and choice in the way in which the services they need are provided. The NHS has provided these services under contract to the Council for nine years and we appreciate that many of the service users have been attending Medina Centre and Meadowbrook for many years with staff that have worked there for some time. We will be working with the Council to ensure everything is done to make the changes as smooth as possible for services users, their carers and relatives and our staff. It is important that we take the utmost care in implementing these changes. We know that the users of these services like certainty in their daily and weekly routines but there are also real opportunities for them to receive improved and a wider choice of care.”
The plans were outlined by a panel of NHS and Council speakers who set out the background to the changes and the support which is available to assist carers, relatives and service users as well as service providers. A consultative event at Cowes Yacht Haven for service providers on the wider issue of changes to learning disability services was held on 15th June and another event for carers, relatives and service users at Newport Football Ground was held on 23rd June – both organised by the Council. The Transformation of social care started in Autumn 2008 and a number of learning disability clients are already making full use of a personal budget and the new choices they have in their social care.
Martin continued: “Whilst in the future we are unable to provide social care we will be meeting the healthcare needs of a number of service users. We estimate that we will be able to offer around 25 places per day (or 50 per day if morning and afternoon sessions are offered), Monday to Friday, at Meadowbrook. Our plan is to refurbish and extend Meadowbook to enable this new service to be provided from that site. Service users will need to move from Meadowbrook to Medina Centre whilst the works are underway over the winter. In Spring 2011 service users with specific healthcare needs will be able to move into the new facilities at Meadowbrook and Medina Centre will close. We are conscious of the impact these changes will have and will monitor them closely.”
Mark Howell, Acting Director of Community Services at the Council said: “Nationally, there has been a change to the way social care is provided with a move towards the use of personalised budgets. These give individual clients more choice and control over the services that they receive to meet their individual needs and service users are provided with assistance to develop personalised support plans. In other words, they have the opportunity, with help if they need it, to choose for themselves the type of care most relevant to their individual needs. This transformation will move away from the current position where service users are only offered standard packages under the existing arrangement.”
“This is not a withdrawal of services – it is a change to the way services are provided. Providing care should be about the services people receive rather than the buildings in which they receive them. We do understand that people who have been receiving the same services in the same building for many years may be concerned about these changes. But personalisation is about improving the choices and opportunities available to people and it is up to us to explain the benefits to clients and to support them through the process of change.
Mark continued: “Already there are many people whose lives have been transformed by the ability under personalisation to choose services that they want rather than those that have been traditionally been provided through standard packages.”
The outline programme is:
- 23rd June 2010 Thirty day consultation with NHS staff
- 23rd June 2010 Consultative day with Carers, Relatives and Service Users on Personal Budgets Council
- July 2010 onwards Assessments undertaken on all Learning Disability Day Service Clients for Social Care Needs & Health Care Needs
- July 2010 Planning permission for Meadowbrook
- August and September 2010 Recruitment of staff for new service to be provided from Meadowbrook, Extension to and refurbishment of Meadowbrook
- October 2010 Service users moved from Meadowbrook to Medina Centre during building work
- November 2010 to March 2011 Building work at Meadowbrook
- April 2011 Service for users with specific healthcare needs moves into extended and refurbished Meadowbrook & Medina Centre closes
Speaking about the impact on staff Martin Robinson at NHS Isle of Wight said: “Our staff are dedicated and caring individuals who in many instances have spent their careers supporting and working with service users, their carers and relatives. Although the arrangements are subject to consultation with NHS staff for 30 days starting on 23rd June we estimate that around a third of the current staff will be required in the new service. We will be working with staff to identify their personal preferences for future employment and how we can support them in the transition to new roles through training and development. All staff who work in these services will be put ‘at risk’ and will have priority access to other posts within the NHS on the Island. Whilst we want to retain the specialist skills of as many staff as possible we cannot rule out at this stage that some staff may eventually be made redundant if suitable alternative employment cannot be found for them.”
In addition to the meeting held on 21st June a series of opportunities have been arranged during July for staff to discuss their preferences and options. These are a mixture of one to one meetings and general staff meetings held at both Medina Centre and Meadowbrook. The PCT currently has vacancies for 108 (full time employed) staff across a range of grades which staff would be eligible to apply for.