Changes to services at four East Sussex learning disability day centres, including the one in Crowborough, made during the pandemic could be confirmed as permanent.
Throughout the pandemic, East Sussex County Council kept the centres open to support the small number of vulnerable adults and their families who depended on the service.
Throughout the first six months, attendance fluctuated and was initially low as families were in lockdown but then increased as restrictions eased.
These directly provided learning disability day services are located at Linden Court in Eastbourne, Beeching Park in Bexhill, St Nicholas Centre in Lewes and Hookstead in Crowborough.
Work was undertaken to deliver a ‘Covid secure’ service with increasing numbers while managing social distancing and the associated restriction on the capacity of the buildings.
Key elements included extending opening hours and delivering three sessions per day to increase use of the buildings to mitigate against the capacity restrictions, running day service sessions in support bubbles of no more than 15 clients, community-based sessions that started and ended in the community and restricting numbers on the day service transport to aid social distancing.
Some of these changes could be made permanent from October under proposals due to be discussed by the Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Health on Tuesday (21st September).
Clients, parent carers and staff have already been consulted.
The proposals would make permanent changes such as day services split across three sessions a day (morning, afternoon and twilight), sessions in support bubbles of up to 15 clients and community sessions that start and end at the community venue.
According to council officers the proposals would ‘improve the service offered to clients and parent carers by providing a broader range of options, hours of delivery and locations’.
Officers noted that positive responses cited clients thriving being in smaller groups and enjoying the different sessions and increased flexibility of timings.
Negative responses tended to be from clients and parent carers not liking the twilight sessions as they clashed with mealtimes or evening routines or those who struggle with change and the restrictions of the bubbles.
Some improvements will be made to address transport challenges, the report said.
It added: “Whilst the vast majority of clients, parent carers and staff are supportive of the service model which has effectively been in place for over a year, support will be provided to those who find this change challenging.”
Read the full report here: Agenda for Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Health on 21st September 2021.