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‘Put yourself in Norman’s shoes’: daughter’s plea over day care centre axe

PUBLISHED: 09:47 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:16 17 September 2020

Diane Joyce with her father, Norman. Picture: Diane Joyce

Diane Joyce with her father, Norman. Picture: Diane Joyce

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A daughter has said “put yourself in Norman’s shoes”, as the looming closure of a day care centre treatens to isolate her 89-year-old father, who has dementia.

Diane Joyce, hopes that Independence Matters, a day centre which provides hubs across Norfolk, reverse their decision on closing the Fakenham centre for the sake of her 89-year-old father, Norman, who suffers from dementia. Picture: Diane JoyceDiane Joyce, hopes that Independence Matters, a day centre which provides hubs across Norfolk, reverse their decision on closing the Fakenham centre for the sake of her 89-year-old father, Norman, who suffers from dementia. Picture: Diane Joyce

Diane Joyce is urging Independence Matters to rethink its decision to close the Fakenham centre, which is among five that the charity will no longer provide from September 30.

Mrs Joyce, 53, from Swanton Morley, said the decision had been a 2kick in the teeth” for Mr Joyce and the rest of his family.

Mr Joyce, from Cringleford, worked as a mechanic at a garage in Norwich for many years. He has three children, seven grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

He was diagnosed with dementia six years ago.

Managing Director of Independence Matters, Sarah Stock. Picture: ContributedManaging Director of Independence Matters, Sarah Stock. Picture: Contributed

Mr Joyce said that he took a turn for the worse after his wife died six-and-a-half years ago.

“He couldn’t get over it”, Mrs Joyce said. “He had many falls and the dementia progressed. So, for safety’s sake he came to live with us.”

Independence Matters told Norfolk County Council it intended to stop providing day services at five of the 17 locations it operated in Norfolk from September 30.

Managing director of Independence Matters Sarah Stock said: “Over the years our amazing and dedicated staff have supported many people at the Hub to remain independent, enabling them to stay within their own homes and communities.”

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care and public health. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care and public health. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The five locations closing are at Cromer, Thetford, Fakenham, Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

Mrs Joyce, a former team leader in a care home, gave up her job five years ago to look after her father.

She wants them to see things from his perspective.

“Put yourself in Norman’s shoes and please reconsider,” she said.

Norman was left confused when he was told him the centre was not reopening. Picture: Diane JoyceNorman was left confused when he was told him the centre was not reopening. Picture: Diane Joyce

Mrs Joyce said she received a letter on September 4 saying they could go back at the end of that month in bubble groups. Mr Joyce would be with the same group of people on the same day every week.

However, five days later she received the letter saying it would not reopen.

Mrs Joyce described the decision as a “kick in the teeth”.

“I liked the service and those running it. Independence matters gave me a break and some peace of mind as I knew he was being looked after.”

On the two days a week Mr Joyce was at the centre, it would give Mrs Joyce and her husband the chance to have a break.

“It gave me and my husband time to be Mr and Mrs, not just dad’s carers,” she said. “We are at the end of our tether. We need a break.”

She praised the service that got her dad socialising with other people and engaging with activities such as cooking, puzzles, and therapy pets.

“He could be Norman, instead of dad,” Mrs Joyce said.

“He has gone downhill since the lockdown. He is not enjoying anything, he just watches the television. That’s his choice but there is nothing else to do.

“I was looking forward to him going back and enjoying something. I know what to do to try and entertain him. It just falls on deaf ears at home.”

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Norfolk County Council has continued to fund all its places at Independence Matters in full, even though no services have been offered due to social distancing.”

He added that the council was putting together a team to work with those affected.

Mrs Joyce said: “I’m worried about settling him in a new centre. This will upset him. I might have trouble getting him to another centre as he may refuse.

“If he doesn’t get another day centre then it will be horrendous: he is going stir crazy.”

Mrs Stock added: “We appreciate how valuable the service is to the people and families who use it, but like every organisation, we must generate enough income to cover our delivery costs.

“The numbers at this service have been in decline for some years and with the additional impact of COVID-19 restrictions and safe social distancing, we find ourselves in the situation where the operating model is no longer viable.

“This is a very sad day for us as we know how much the service means to our customers and their families and understand the impact this will have on people’s lives.

“Delivering this service has been a real privilege and we would like to thank everyone.”


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