The clock is ticking for one of the county’s most vital elderly day care support centres

Madge Rowland and Tom Jones share a laugh at the Bakewell Day Care Centre, which is under threat.
Madge Rowland and Tom Jones share a laugh at the Bakewell Day Care Centre, which is under threat.
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When you think back to childhood it is possible the majority of your memories will involve the fun you had while out riding your bike or some other dynamic activity which all seemed so effortless at the time.

And it was effortless. For you.

But where your memory may be a little hazy is the thought and effort your parents put in behind the scenes to make sure you were fit to ride a bike.

Not just the sacrifice your dad made standing in a park, explaining the mechanics of pushing off with your feet and pedalling at the same time, but their non-stop commitment to make sure your physical and mental development gave you best chance of mastering a bicycle with minimal hardship.

The work which you did not particularly notice to ensure you ate the right food, didn’t walk into too many walls, had plenty of interaction to stimulate your brain, was what really helped you ride that bike.

And it is a fact of life that as we get older and more frail we once again become reliant on the kind of commitment and thoughtfulness which our parents showed us when we were children.

And for those elderly people in Derbyshire who are not ready to go into a residential nursing home the choices available to them may be about to become fewer.

Bakewell Day Centre provides not only a host of stimulating activities for what are often isolated elderly people four days a week but also the kind of holistic care which stops them from going rapidly downhill.

It is currently one of many such voluntary-sector organisations which face drastic loss of funding due to Government cuts to their local authorities services grants.

The centre is currently subject of a consultation by Derbyshire County Council to decide whether 100% of its funding should be cut.

But Katy Pugh, Chief Executive of Age UK Derby and Derbyshire, says without this funding the centre will have no choice but to close.

“We deliver our service for £432 per day,” said katy.

“That covers rent, transport to and from the centre, meals, a range of activities, paying staff, insurance, utility bills - everything.

“We are already subsidising it and our elderly members are already paying towards the cost - there is a limit to what we can do to mitigate the grant being taken away.”

Katy believes that for many elderly people there really is no alternative to Bakewell Day Centre.

While lunch clubs can provide a social meal, they do not have the staff or resources to support the personal care needs which many of its members have and though some residential nursing homes do provide a daycare service, most members feel uncomfortable in what is ultimately somebody else’s home.

She added: “For most of them this is the only social meal and the only social contact they have all week.

“Homecare visits are very functional but there is no depth of conversation.”

Bakewell Day Centre tries to support every aspect of its members’ personal and social needs.

It supplies a mixture of activities - from board games and arts and crafts to light physical exercise such as bowls and short health walks in the community.

Members are also stimulated with pastimes such as music, cookery and even reminiscence work for those who suffer with dementia.

“It sounds very simple,” said Katie, “but we start the day with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.

“This is a chance for members to put their days into perspective.

“If they have seen something horrible on the news they worry about it if left on their own to chew it over.

“But when they talk about these things with others they can put their minds at rest.”

And at the most practical level, staff at the centre monitor the elderly members to ensure they are eating properly, taking their medication and managing their own continence.

Katy added: “They don’t notice the monitoring and support but it is like a little comfort bubble around them.”

As part of its public consultation over the plans to cut funding from Bakewell Day Centre and other Derbyshire voluntary organisations a statement from the county council reads:

“By 2020 the funding we get from Government will be more than a third lower than in 2010.

“We are protecting frontline services and vulnerable people where we can but we have no choice other than to reduce the amount of funding to most of the services we provide.”

Derbyshire County Council’s public consultation on the plans closes on 24th July.

If the plans go ahead Katie believes the centre will be closed by January.

To have your say visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say.