Westminster House has provided a valuable respite care service for Island residents with Learning Disabilities for a number of years.
In 2007, the council began discussions with employees, clients and partners over options for the development and modernisation of services for learning disability clients on the Island.
As part of this on-going process, in April of this year the Council set up a group called the Whole Life Group (WLG). The group, which is led by Cllr Cousins and Cllr Mazillius, includes in its membership; day care employees, managers, service users and partners, including the NHS, and has been continuing these discussions and considering how services for service users of all ages can be improved.
Early in its work the WLG identified the fact that there were opportunities to develop the service into one that supports independent living, which could have a number of benefits for service users. To do so would, however, require the use of fewer, more modern centres with enhanced facilities and mean re-locating existing service provision from buildings less suitable, such as Westminster House. It was also recognised, however, that to do so would not only lead to an improved service but the ability to free up from resources to fund other areas of need, including adult social care services.
The Whole Life Group, including staff representatives, has now unanimously supported a proposal to stop using Westminster House and transfer the service to enhanced facilities at The Gouldings, Freshwater and the Adelaide at Ryde. This plan will be presented to Cabinet and Full Council this month.
Under these proposals, the services at Westminster House would be re-located, after redecoration and improvements, to the ground floor of The Gouldings and utilise the flat at the Adelaide on a full-time basis. The Gouldings also has outside facilities that provide opportunities to enjoy gardening and leisure activities such as barbecues. Indoors there are kitchen facilities, a small quiet room and scope to hold parties and celebrations. The Gouldings also has its own minibus, making trips out easier for service users.
Cllr Roger Mazillius, IW Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Housing, said:
“The Whole Life Group has looked extremely carefully and in great detail at all the options open in respect of Westminster House. We are very aware of the regard in which users and their families hold this building.
“But we must look beyond mere buildings. What is of greater importance is the service offered from those buildings and by switching locations from Westminster House to modern facilities at the Gouldings and the Adelaide, we will open up far more opportunities and activities to our clients.
“The change will be managed carefully and sympathetically and we will stress to our service users that this change will bring with it many opportunities to make the time spent in respite care more rewarding and fulfilling for them and the friends they have made at Westminster House.
“Though service users may have become accustomed to Westminster House, this does not hide the fact that the building has become unsuitable. Nor can this familiarity prevent us from making the most of an opportunity to move to new premises that offer a better range of activities.
“This is particularly so when relinquishing a building that is unfit for its purpose at the same time as making sure that the service is delivered in the most efficient way possible saving up to £215,000 in a full year that can be spent by the council in maintaining and improving other similar priority areas including adult social care.”
“But irrespective of financial considerations, the Whole Life Group would not be recommending this option if it believed the change would in any way result in a lesser quality of service.”
During the coming weeks discussions with users and their families will continue and any suitable additional suggestions will be incorporated into the plan.
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