Falkirk Council has pledged that nobody using its revamped day care service will lose out – even although two centres are to close.
The assurance follows a recent Falkirk Herald article in which parents of disabled people spoke frankly of their dismay at the decision to axe centres in Bainsford and Camelon.
They fear the cost-cutting plans could leave vulnerable people feeling socially isolated when the closures go ahead next year.
It has also been claimed the council’s consultation on the planned shake-up of day care services hasn’t seriously taken into account the views of those most likely to be affected.
But the council’s SNP administration, aiming to answer key concerns, says it plans to set up a service users’ group to oversee the development of what is claimed to be a better and more flexible service than before.
Councillor Fiona Collie, SNP portfolio holder for social care, said: “We are acutely aware that the reported changes in day services are causing anxiety for people who use the services, their families and carers.
“Change can be frightening especially when the service they rely on is reported alongside stories of the council facing a £25m deficit next year due to the Westminster austerity policy.”
She added: “We said that we would seek to protect the most vulnerable in our community and that we will do.
“That is why I am giving the guarantee that no recipient of the service will be receiving less under the new set up, but many will be receiving a wider choice of activities and better services.
“We have taken the view that people are more important than bricks and mortar.”
She says the Bainsford Day Centre is no longer fit for purpose after years of neglect - the roof alone could cost £1.7m to repair.
Councillor Collie added: “Younger people and their families told us that day services were not something they wanted to use but wanted activities that supported education, employment, social and leisure.
“Of course for some the traditional Day Care Service is what they require and their continuity is our priority.
“As a council we need to work and plan to meet all and different needs now and in the future.
“That is why I am giving the assurance that staff will transfer to Grangemouth as will the support plans of the existing service users who require continuity.
“Staff will be brought in to work with individuals, their families and key workers to discuss this and plan their loved ones’ long term needs”.