Scottish Borders Council’s executive is set to vote next week on axing older people’s day services.

A report, set to go before councillors at the executive meeting on Tuesday, proposes the council moves to a ‘local area coordination model’, where service users are paired with a local area coordinator who can point them in the direction of services such as volunteer-led social centres.

According to the report, the closure of the council’s day services will result in job losses if 'no suitable alternative positions can be found' for day service staff.

Officers believe that decommissioning the council’s day services will save £208,000 in 2019/20 and deliver a permanent £350,000 saving from 2020/21.

However, a delay in recruiting new staff, who need to be in place before the switch over to a local area coordination model, has reduced the projected saving of £208,000 in 2019/20 to just £50,000.

Among the centres operated by Scottish Borders Council’s arms-length organisation SB Cares are Oakview Day Centre in Galashiels, the Deanfield Day Centre in Hawick, Jedburgh Day Centre, and Kelso Day Centre.

Scottish Borders Council has already closed Saltgreens Day Centre in Eyemouth after creating a ‘joint enhanced day unit’ at Eyemouth Day Hospital.

The report, authored by the chief officer for adult service Michael Murphy, reads: “Despite significant increases in the numbers of older people living in our communities and accessing social care services, the volume of clients using day services has reduced in number from 240 in 2014/15 to 43 in 2019.

“There is considerable overlap between day centres and social centres such as providing transport, meals and social opportunities.

“Day centres provide personal care, whereas in social centres personal care would be provided by other means, e.g. a personal assistant.

“The current daily charge for a day service placement is £48, whereas a social centre charge is £10.

“As the transformation proceeds social centres will be kept under review to ensure that they meet the accessibility and volume requirements for a buildings based option.

“Each locality will have a local area coordination team consisting of a local area coordinator and link workers.

“The volume of staff will reflect the local population and needs. The team will hold a caseload of people who are in need of day time opportunities.

“Local area coordinators engage with people and discuss what interests they have and what activities they would like to be involved in.

“Activities can range from pursuing an interest in fishing, attending a walking or gentle exercise group, through to attending a local soup and sandwich club.

“With their knowledge of the locality, local area coordinators build up a range of opportunities for older adults to get involved with and contribute to their local community.

“If they identify a gap in provision, they engage with partners to develop new ideas and groups that meet a communities’ need.”

Day service users were contacted by the council on March 1, after meetings were called by the Kelso and Jedburgh day service teams.

However, Galashiels day service users have not been briefed as the council says the decommissioning of day services will “not impact on Oakview in the same way.”

Scottish Borders Council’s health chief Rob McCulloch-Graham, said: “The research carried out as part of our review of the provision of support services for older people showed us that the numbers of people using traditional day services was in decline and there was a growing preference for other more effective, localised options.

“We therefore needed to look at introducing more robust, community based models that would enable us to improve options and outcomes for older people and their families.

“The local area coordination approach was already proving successful for other client groups and we were confident that it would be equally beneficial for older adults.

“It would also build on and expand the work of our community capacity building team who coordinate a wide range of popular activities and volunteering opportunities across the region, and our ongoing aim of providing a more community based day opportunity model.

“Following on from the introduction of the approach in Berwickshire, we are now asking the executive to note our intention to proceed with the expansion across the rest of the Borders, which will include meeting with day service users and their families to explain more about our plans and the benefits that the introduction of a new type of service could bring to them.

“Briefings have been held with those members of staff likely to be impacted by the proposals and these will be ongoing should we receive agreement to proceed.”