Day care club fears closure

Gatehouse day centre care in Mildenhall - The day centre for the elderly is concerned about the effect Care UK's new well-being centre will have.   Pictured are some of the members and volunteers.
Gatehouse day centre care in Mildenhall - The day centre for the elderly is concerned about the effect Care UK's new well-being centre will have. Pictured are some of the members and volunteers.

A Mildenhall day care provider has said it is concerned for its future following the approval of a new state-of-the-art wellbeing centre in the town.

St John’s Club, run by charity Gatehouse, has been providing day care services from St John’s Catholic Church since 1987.

The centre provides elderly people with a hot meal, companionship and help and advice every Tuesday.

Lilly Fox, 89, of Mildenhall, has been going to the centre for 25 years.

She said: “When you come through that door it’s happy here.

“You come here and you are independent in every sense,.

“The friendship that is in this place – everybody knows one another by name.”

Care UK has been granted planning permission to build a wellbeing centre to provide day care services for elderly people in the community as part of a new care home development.

Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse,
said: “We are disappointed that the councils have not spoken to ourselves directly regarding the provision already there.

“There is a risk that if we are unable to continue receiving funding, and if another service comes into play, we will not be able to provide the service.”

St John’s Club charges £20 a day.

Dwindling attendance has already forced it to reduce the number of days it can provide services.

Shirley Hunter, co-ordinator of St John’s Club, said the service was not only an 
opportunity for elderly 
people to come and enjoy companionship and a hot meal but also provided a respite for carers.

Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for health and adult care, said: “People have a personal budget and have control and choice.

“We will advise but it is up to people what they want.

“Care UK will offer a wide variety of services so people with personal budgets are attracted.

“That potentially could have an impact on other operators.”

Chris Hopkinson, regional operations director at 
Care UK, said: “In no way is the new wellbeing centre being developed to replace any of the current services in Mildenhall.

“We would like to extend an invitation to the team at Gatehouse for us all to sit round a table and see if there are ways for both organisations to work together in meeting what we all know to be a growing demand for day care services in the community.”