FEARS are growing for the future of a day centre now that it has started charging for a service.
Grampian House care home, in Peterlee, is now asking users to pay to use its day care facility, as part of Durham County Council’s new policy on charging for services.
But now concerns are growing that people will stop using the centre because of the new costs.
The facility, in Grampian Drive, provides a number of activities, including bingo, games, a hot meal and somewhere for the elderly to socialise.
One concerned Peterlee man, whose 92-year-old mother uses the centre, fears people will stop attending because of the new charges and that it could close altogether.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “Out of 16 people who attend the day centre, 13 said they wouldn’t be going back because of the charges imposed on them.
“My mother is fortunate because she doesn’t have to pay because of a care package in place for her, but where will she go if people stop going and it closes?
“It’s all the cuts going on - here we are again hitting the most vulnerable people - the elderly.”
The change comes after the local authority ran a consultation on extending its charging scheme to include day care services.
Service users did not previously have to contribute to costs, though some did pay a small amount for transport to and from the centre.
But people who received other services, such as residential care, home care, extra care, telecare, Supported Living and Shared Lives did contribute to the cost.
Graham Bainbridge, Durham County Council’s head of finance for adults, wellbeing and health, said: “Day care and alternative services were previously the only adult care services that were provided for free and we want to ensure that the way people contribute to the cost of all such services is as fair as possible.
“It is for this reason that we now ask people to pay towards the cost of day care.
“In addition, Government funding cuts mean that local authorities need to provide services as efficiently as possible.
“The amount anyone is asked to pay is based on an individual financial assessment using national government guidance, and no-one should be asked to pay more than they can afford.”