Swaffham day centre boss pleads for renovation help

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Managers of a day centre for people with dementia are having to raise tens of thousands of pounds for improvements to their home, a meeting has heard.

Town councillors in Swaffham have been warned the area is facing a “major problem” with its care services, because of the scale of need.

And the manager of the town’s Merle Boddy Centre, Georgie Bell, told Wednesday evening’s council meeting that the need for support was far greater than they can currently cater for.

She said: “There should be at least five or six in Swaffham. We should be able to expand.

“You’re going to have a major problem. It’s happening now, we’ve got it. It needs to be thought about.”

The Station Yard facility is currently able to cater for 15 people who are living with dementia each day.

But Mrs Bell said the scale of proposed future development around the area meant the current challenges facing the sector meant the level of need was only going to increase.

She said one-in-four people would have a mental health problem at some point in their lives and one-in-five was likely to have some form of dementia.

And she asked: “What are we going to do? The hospitals can’t take them.

“Residential care homes are full. Are they going to expand and why should these people be shoved into residential care if they don’t want to be? We need more day services.”

Mrs Bell said they needed to find £30,000 to pay for improved toilets, plus around £1,000 for an industrial cooker hood, as their current one had been deemed insufficient to cope with the level of cooking done there each day.

Although the building is rented from Breckland Council, the meeting was told they would not fund the work under the terms of the lease.

Mrs Bell said it was hard to find funding to help the charity, which was liable for all the costs associated with the building.

She added that she felt they were not treated fairly by the district authority.

She said: “Breckland Council does not bend. They wouldn’t care if we weren’t there. They’re not bothered.”

Sheila Lister questioned whether the situation could be illegal and called on the town’s Breckland councillors to demand action.

Brenda Bowler added: “I find it hard to believe we’re supposed to be a dementia-friendly town and Breckland aren’t supporting you.”

Mayor Paul Darby, who is one of the town’s three district council representatives, said: “We (the town council) will morally support you as much as we can.”

But he said questions about the lease had been raised with district officials on several previous occasions, without any change.

He also reminded members that adult social care was a Norfolk County Council function.