Services to older people in Camden are being slashed. Within the next three years, the plan is to end the Meals on Wheels service; close one of two specialist Dementia Day Centres; shut down all eight of the Good Neighbour schemes; close four popular Resource Centres (Millman Street, Great Croft, Hillwood and Henderson Court), leaving only Charlie Ratchford in Chalk Farm and Kingsgate in Kilburn; close at least five luncheon clubs, as well as advocacy and advice schemes for Learning Disabilities, HIV services, BME groups and outreach work.
There has been an outcry about these cuts, and there is real fear that many older residents will be left with little to no support in future. A number of vibrant campaigns have been organised pulling together clients, staff, health professionals, carers and family and local residents appalled at these short sighted cuts. While the Council says there is still consultation going on, most of these decisions have already been taken and there is a huge amount of anger from all sides about these possibly life threatening cuts.
Plenty of research is available to show that cuts to these ‘preventative’ services only lead to the need for more expensive alternatives later on such as hospitals and residential care.
For the Council to try to claim that the ‘Personalisation’ or personal choice of services will mean that everyone will get more control over their right to independent living at the same time as cutting those services that people have ‘chosen’ is complete double-speak.
Many of the elderly and frail are making a commitment to come on all or part of the TUC National Demonstration on 26th March to show their disgust at the ConDem cuts, but also at the failure of this Labour Council to stand by the services they were voted in to protect.
Phoebe Watkins Co-convenor HASC