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Mountview Meeting

Save Mountview Public Meeting

New Life Church Congleton – April 2nd 2013

A lively public meeting, organised by the Save Mountview campaign and attended by over 80 local residents and five Cheshire East councillors, was held at the New Life Church in Congleton on Tuesday evening, 2nd April 2013. The meeting was chaired by former Congleton Mayor Ernie Clarke.

At the meeting service users and their families expressed their admiration for the services provided by Mountview Community Care Centre, which is subject to a consultation by Cheshire East Council regarding its future and possible closure. 

A petition asking Cheshire East Council to keep Mountview open has now been signed by over 1,400 people and will be presented to the Council before the end of the consultation period on 25th April.  In the meantime everyone concerned about Mountview is urged to contact Cheshire East Council individually, via the website or by letter. 

The main points raised by the many people who spoke from the floor included:

·           Vulnerable people with dementia or learning difficulties require continuity of care, not ad hoc provision across a variety of facilities.  It is vital that care is provided in familiar surroundings with regular family contact and with staff who know and understand each service user’s  needs;

·           The transfer of services to facilities in Crewe and Macclesfield is impractical because of the time and costs involved in travelling from Congleton.  The distance would deter regular and vital visits to service users by family and friends; the time allowed to carers through respite would be drastically reduced.

·           Lack of long term thinking.  The local plan for Congleton envisages substantial house building with a consequent increase in population.  Life expectancy is steadily increasing.  Therefore the town needs more facilities to support an aging population, yet the Council is considering reducing the few facilities the town has;

·           In addition to the general ageing of the population, Congleton has the highest incidence of dementia in Cheshire East, but its only respite centre is under threat of closure;

·           The centre in Crewe has only twelve dementia respite beds and is fully utilised;

·           People in the audience didn’t  want choice, they wanted a good local service;

·           Home care cannot provide the same level of care as day or residential respite services;

·           Concern that fewer facilities will mean less choice of dates for respite stays;

·           The Council says that en suite facilities are vital and that these cannot be provided at Mountview.  Many in the audience disagreed, giving higher priority to the expertise of staff and local facilities;

·           Many in the audience found it difficult to book care through social services.  They preferred direct contact with Mountview.  It was felt that the new method of booking was deterring carers from using Mountview;

·           There was concern that the quality of service will decline, given the need for profit,  if respite care is transferred to the private sector;

·           The Council has already closed other facilities in Congleton, for instance Fellowship House.  Services were transferred to Mountview but now that too is under threat.  We need to draw a line this time.

Questions

·           If services are moved from Congleton how can vital access to local GPs be maintained?

·           If services are moved from Congleton will the Council be meeting the transport costs of service users?  What assurances can the Council give that such arrangements are not withdrawn in the future?

·           Whilst transport might be provided for service users would it be provided for visitors?

·           The Council states that Mountview is underused but the experience of many in the audience suggested otherwise.  There is a lack of facts about the levels of usage of services at Mountview.  When will the numbers using its various services be made public?

·           Do Crewe and Macclesfield have the required capacity?  When will figures for this be published?

·           The consultation talks about possible options.  What options are being considered and when will they be discussed in public?

·           What are the Council’s “aspirations” for Mountview and when will they be made public?

·           When will the public see the financial case for the various options?

·           Cheshire East Council says that it will focus on providing care close to family and home.  How is this stated objective consistent with the possible withdrawal of respite care at Mountview, the only local facility available to the residents of Congleton?

·           Planned savings are often offset by unforeseen costs.  If there are fewer or indeed no facilities at Mountview for respite care, then any immediate savings are likely to be wiped out by the higher cost of care at home and full time care in care homes.  The likely impact on carers’ health needs be added to these increasing costs.  Have all of these costs been considered?

·           Have staff at Mountview been given notice of redundancy?  There was general concern about the impact of the current uncertainty on staff morale;

·           Many members of the audience felt that councillors were not giving answers to their questions.  When will answers be available?

·           Are all opinions and comments, written and verbal, taken into account by the council?

 

Decision Process

Cllr Topping said that the Mountview issue had first surfaced as part of the budget proposals and as yet local councillors had few facts to go on.  The proposal has been challenged across the board but there are also concerns about the future viability of Mountview.  The issue was not about the building but about the services provided.  An option could be new facilities in Congleton; and if services were moved to Crewe or Macclesfield then transport would be needed.  Any decision had to be taken in the wider context, not just Congleton.  Few councillors outside of Congleton knew anything about Mountview.

Cllr Brown outlined the decision process and said that the final decision would probably not be taken until August, with cabinet recommendations being presented to the full council.  Members of the public could attend and ask questions at both cabinet and full council meetings.

Cllrs Topping, Brown and Corcoran all urged members of the public to send their comments to Cheshire East Council as part of the consultation.

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