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Drop in attendance and vandal attacks force Wolverhampton dementia service out

By Joe Sweeney | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A daily dementia support service in Wolverhampton is likely to move from its current home – after a drop in attendance rates and repeated vandal attacks.

Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet this week agreed to a proposal to transfer services previously provided at Blakenhall Community Resource Centre over to the better-equipped Action for Independence building, in Albert Road, near West Park.

The problems at the partially closed and ‘poor’ building in Haggar Street, led council members to give their backing to the move this week.

The service opened in 1997 and provides day care for people with functional and/or dementia disorders from Mondays to Fridays.

However, Councillor Linda Leach, cabinet member for adults, told members at this week's meeting: “This is a poor building and we really need to transfer to a more modern one. We are conducting an eight-week consultation into the matter and all the ward councillors are up-to-date on how things stand.

“We have a fantastic facility at Albert Road and the move wouldn’t mean any changes in staffing. As the current premises stands, I certainly wouldn’t want to put any of my loved ones in there.”

Council leader Ian Brookfield added: “The current venue has been vandalised and criminalised and we really want to improve things here in the very important services that are provided to people.”

The current day service has the capacity to provide 75 places per week to 32 older people, although cabinet members said the venue is quite isolated and only people with dementia or support staff ever visit it.

Corporate Landlord Services, which manages the premises, said they felt this was one of the reasons for recent vandal attacks and break-ins.

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In a report to the council, head of adult provision, Tom Denham, said: “The existing building used by the service does not meet the expectations of an up-to-date, fully accessible and inclusive day service provision in terms of both the facilities and activities available to be undertaken there.

“Current provision at the Blakenhall Community Resource Centre is within a building that is not fully accessible, which can result in the inability to accept referrals of patients with significant mobility issues.

“Some external areas are currently difficult to access even by people who have lesser mobility issues.

“An option to consult on is to utilise the current Adult Provision venue at Action for Independence, Albert Road. The facilities are much more accessible than Blakenhall, the venue has undergone recent renovation, there is a large garden area, changing place and toilet facilities, an IT suite, accessible rehabilitation kitchen and the venue is close to West Park and the city centre.

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“Another option is to remain at Blakenhall, but substantial capital investment would be required and the service would still be isolated from other community based services and city amenities,” he added.

“The Action for Independence venue is equipped to support the service, there is capacity within the venue and day support is already provided there for people with other disabilities.

“This venue is well used by a number of council teams, partner organisations and the voluntary sector, making it a well visited part of the city community. It is a more inclusive venue as opposed to the isolating effect of the current Blakenhall venue.”

Meals are currently provided at Blakenhall, but the consultation will enable people to think about alternate options such as Meals on Wheels or food brought in from home.

“It is intended that a move out of the Blakenhall venue and in to the Action for

Independence venue would help the people who use the service to enjoy greater interaction with other members of the community,” added Mr Denham.

The approved 2019-20 budget for Blakenhall day service is £269,000. Cabinet members agreed they were in favour of the transfer.

Joe Sweeney

By Joe Sweeney
@JoeSweeneyLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Wolverhampton.

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