Over 100 social worker jobs in balance after decision to close adult day centers – Quest Media Network

Day Center protest outside County Hall in Matlock. Photo: Christina Massey.

More than 100 social worker jobs are on the line following the decision to close eight adult day centers in Derbyshire – amid fears the council is merely addressing workers’ concerns.

The decision by Derbyshire County Council’s Conservative cabinet yesterday (October 13) to close eight day centers for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties leaves 105 staff today wondering what will happen to their jobs, and with only 42 roles likely to be created within the wider service, this means that 63 staff members will potentially be looking for employment.

The decision went against the outcome of a public consultation earlier in the year, in which 81% of 696 respondents disagreed with the proposals, prompting the opposition to comment that the survey was a ‘tick box’ exercise.

The council will now begin formal consultation with unions and staff, but speaking at a protest outside county offices yesterday, Jeanette Lloyd, UNISON Derbyshire branch secretary, said she feared the authority merely “pays lip service” to the views of its employees.

She said: ‘My concern is that if they haven’t supported the public consultation, how much notice are they going to take of a staff consultation?

The redesign of the Learning Disabilities Day Opportunities service is pushing service users towards using community connectors to identify job and volunteer opportunities, but concerns have been raised that this level support will be insufficient for many.

Ms Lloyd stressed that despite the threat to their livelihoods, staff were ‘more concerned about the users of their services’ than themselves.

“Many of these service users have been attending the same centers for years and years, the caregivers are extensions of their families,” she commented.

Responding to a question about the future of employees posed at the meeting by Chief Labor Councilor Joan Dixon, Cabinet Member for Adult Services Councilor Natalie Hoy said the authority would do “whatever ‘she could to restrain them’.

She said: “I can assure you that all staff who may be affected have been kept informed and we will continue to support them.

“We highly value our dedicated and skilled staff.”

Deputy Chief Councilor Simon Spencer said: “Those staff members who are directly affected will be treated properly with dignity and any issues will be resolved.”

In approving the plans, cabinet members celebrated the move towards a new way of delivering services that offers people a greater variety of options away from traditional day centres.

After the phased closures, the following four adult day centers will remain open for those with more complex needs – Alderbrook, in Chinley, No Limits, in Chesterfield, Outlook, in Long Eaton and Parkwood, in Alfreton.

The closure of adult day centers follows the cabinet’s controversial decision earlier in the year to close seven council-run care homes for the elderly.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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