Nottingham City Council is to close the Summerwood Day Centre in Clifton, with service users accessing the same level of service at alternative centres with better facilities.
The move follows a public consultation and is part of a review of the council’s day centres which identified Summerwood as the smallest and oldest centre, with limited facilities. The other two learning disability day centres that also provide citywide services – Martin Jackaman and Spring Meadow – have undergone significant refurbishment recently with modern facilities and enough space for more people.
While services provided by day centres remain important for some, the move nationally is for more individualised approaches – such as the council’s ‘Pathway’ services – which give people with disabilities one-to-one support with experienced members of staff to increase their independence and community participation. There are 27 people registered at Summerwood and just 22 attended regularly on average ahead of the pandemic.
The closure of the centre will provide the council with an annual saving of £387,000. The plan is to demolish the building at a cost of around £50,000, which will be recuperated through the sale of the whole former Fairham College development site where the centre stands.
The council’s aim is to continue to develop the Nottingham Pathway Service – a permanent council team that help people with learning disabilities access mainstream community services, gain employment, work experience and voluntary work, learn to travel and live independently. When the Nottingham Pathway service was trialled for nine months prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it developed a positive track record of offering bespoke enablement programmes to learning disabled adults.
The timeframe for the centre’s closure will be determined by a consultation which will now take place with staff around the changes and job losses – although it’s hoped there will be no forced redundancies. Service users, their families and carers will be kept up to date with the plans.
Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health, Cllr Adele Williams, said: “We completely understand that closing a day centre is really difficult for its service users who will have a strong attachment to Summerwood, but we will be working closely with them and their families and carers to ensure they are supported and their needs are met.
“I can assure them that those who want it will continue to receive the same level of service at more modern centres with better facilities. I realise it may involve more travel for some and we are looking at ways to support with this. Others will still be able to access services in Clifton if that’s what they require.
“While there is a cost saving attached to this closure, it’s important to understand that this decision is driven by the need to adapt to new ways of meeting people’s needs and expectations. We are seeing a steady decline in the numbers accessing traditional day centres in the city, with many learning disabled adults now requesting alternative daytime support providing more personalised options to meet their needs.
“The Summerwood closure allows us to focus on this new approach while continuing to provide building-based services for those who need them, as well as reducing costs at a time when the council must find new and more efficient ways to deliver services.”