Day care changes get the go ahead

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SOME of Thetford’s most vulnerable people will be getting to grips with a new way of receiving help after radical changes to social care provision were pushed through.

Norfolk County Council’s cabinet confirmed in a meeting on Monday that the authority will no longer run free day centres such as Laburnum Grove in Thetford.

Instead, service users will be handed personal budgets and get to decide what care the money is spent on.

Norfolk insists that the changes allow for a new ‘modernised’ service and puts power in the hands of service users.

David Harwood, portfolio holder for adult and community services, said: “These changes will benefit people in different ways and that’s what’s good about this policy.

“If someone wants to do something and that benefits them, then they can choose to do it using the funding from their budget.

“People who have taken up this budget, especially younger service users, have found it very, very useful.”

Mr Harwood added that service users will be given assistance in choosing how their budget is spent.

He said: “Some will find it difficult to change, some won’t want to change but the idea is not to force them to do anything they don’t want to do.

“We’ve taken all that into account because we feel that the person is more important than the service.”

The county council says the future of day care services, such as the one at Laburnum Grove, will be determined by services users.

A spokesman said: “Where there is enough demand to sustain a day service, there will be the opportunity for it to continue in a similar form, provided by the same staff, the voluntary or the independent sector.”

Sessions will cost users around £15.

Kate Rudkin, from Age UK Norfolk, said moves to a personal budget were largely positive and would give elderly people more flexibility.