CARERS have united against council plans to close day centres and force vulnerable adults to find their own care.
Lincolnshire County Council is currently consulting on the way it provides adult social care in an attempt to cut costs.
It wants to move all care users to the personal budget scheme, which lets people decide where to spend their publicly-funded care grant instead of the council providing care for them.
It has also produced a list of services it wants to stop, which includes the Stamford and Bourne Learning Disability Services in Abbey Road, Bourne, and the Stamford Day Centre in Ryhall Road, Stamford.
Tracey Byles, 48, of Austerby, Bourne, cares for her 23-year-old daughter who is severely disabled. She uses the Swallow Lodge respite service in North Hykeham, which the council has also earmarked for closure.
Mrs Byles and a group of carers, service users and relatives demonstrated against the proposals in Bourne town centre yesterday. They found plenty of people who were worried about what could happen.
She said: “The council is asking people who can’t read or write and have no comprehension of what is going on to choose their own services. How can they choose anything? They are the most vulnerable people in the country.”
The council currently bulk-buys services and says that giving users the chance to choose what care they get will improve choice and save money.
But Mrs Byles is worried that if council-provided day centres close, there will be no choice at all.
She added: “These people have a high level of critical needs. The council is expecting people to leave the service and try and find something in the community but there won’t be anything. There are no services to cover these people’s needs.
“They will be living at home and carers will have to come to them. They are having to sacrifice their safeguarded living to put money back into the economy. It’s immoral.”
Mrs Byles says day centres offer a safe environment where elderly and disabled people can socialise and be part of the community.
But if the day centres close, vulnerable people would lose the chance to go out and see their friends and would be unable to find other services.
She has set up an online petition to try to force the council to change its plans, and has been visiting doctors’ surgeries and churches to try and raise awareness.
She is also meeting Bourne MP Nick Boles tomorrow to discuss the issue.
She added: “I have spoken to other carers who are really distressed. We have had quite a big response from people wanting to know more. It is a really big issue that has been kept really quiet.”
The consultation runs until January 9. Visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/dpsconsultation to comment.