THE continued closure of day care facilities and services in Powys due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been challenged by councillors.
A delegated decision in January by Powys County Council’s portfolio holder for Adult Social Care, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander to keep the facilities closed up to August, has been questioned.
The facilities have been closed ever since the UK went into the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.
Cllr Mathew Dorrance has asked several questions around the continued closure.
He asks if Cllr Alexander has a plan to safely re-open the day centres and whether she will commit to reviewing the situation every 30 days?
Cllr Dorrance said:
“Whilst no one underestimates the challenge presented by the ongoing pandemic, our day centres have been closed for a considerable time leaving service users without their service and carers without respite.
“I have heard from residents in Brecon about the impact this is having and the strain it is placing on people.”
In Newtown, Cllr Joy Jones has gone further than Cllr Dorrance and wants to see the centres re-opened.
Cllr Alexander said:
“Adult Services understands and wants to do all it can to promote meaningful day opportunities for older adults in Powys.
“Safe and effective day care provision is part of this.
“From the start of the pandemic, our decisions around day centres have been informed by Welsh Government guidance.
“This guidance is fluid.
“On January 28 the First Minister announced that Welsh Government will be move to alert zero.
“This means that the two-metre social distancing rule will no longer apply to premises open to the public and workplaces.
“We will be reviewing our decision on a monthly basis as before, with reference to latest Welsh Government guidance and staffing capacity.
She added that the rationale behind the previous decisions were in the risk assessment that accompanied the decision report.
When that decision was taken last month, the Omicron variant had caused Powys to experiencing the highest Covid-19 infection rates since the beginning of the pandemic.
Cllr Alexander explained that this had seen increased staffing absences.
Cllr Alexander said:
“Whilst the decision to maintain closure of day centres is clearly disappointing for some, we have continued to deliver an outreach service to those that would benefit from it, as well as working in partnership with others to find other meaningful day opportunities for individuals.”
In March 2020, 154 people attended Powys Day Centres for Older People, with 33 staff.
Powys Day Services for people with disabilities was attended by 124 people attended and had 70 staff.
In September 2020, Welshpool Town Council closed the Ann Holloway Day Centre permanently, with the loss of five jobs.