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Response to Somerset County Council’s decision to sell the Six Acres site

Discovery Latest
26 October 2018

We are aware that rumours have been circulating in Taunton, about the potential closure of our Day Services building at Six Acres. Firstly, we would like to confirm that our support in Taunton is not ceasing.

However, Somerset County Council and Discovery have always planned to modernise Day Services in Somerset. The future use of Day Centres is clearly an important part of that modernisation and you will be aware that a review of centres is ongoing. In the long-term, both the Council and Discovery believe firmly that more community-based, inclusive and creative ways of providing support, provide better outcomes.

We can confirm that Somerset County Council is selling the Six Acres site and this will change the way support is delivered in the future.

Discovery’s ambitions – delivery of person-centred support for everyone – have not changed, but this sale means we will readjust the previously announced plan for Taunton. We have previously said that we would assess the success of new hubs in St James, Colliers Court and the Seahorse Centre before deciding on the future for Six Acres.

The sale is an opportunity to move our shared vision for the future of day support forward more immediately. For Somerset County Council (SCC) it also generates much-needed income at a time of big pressures on their budgets.

The sale will also affect two residential supported living settings, Ashbury and the Brambles, as well as the operational running of our support at Bindon Road, which is intrinsically linked to our day service provision provided at Six Acres.

Most significantly, in the short term at least, the sale will mean the loss of a base which currently serves a few purposes which aren’t easily accessible within Taunton at this moment in time.  We will work closely with SCC and other organisations to develop these as a priority.


What will happen next?

SCC are completing reviews of the care needs of everyone who receives support at Six Acres. Council staff will work with people supported across these locations, their families and Discovery staff to find suitable, more community-based and inclusive ways of meeting their needs.

Everyone’s needs will be assessed. Everyone will get the level of support they need, though in many cases that support will be different. People who need one-to-one support will get that one-to-one support.

Following needs assessments, we will meet with people individually to create fresh person-centred plans, based on people’s needs, wants and ambitions alongside their assessed support hours. The key change is that from the 31 March 2019, the Six Acres building will no longer be available.

We understand that there will be anxiety among people we support and their families about this change. However, Somerset County Council and Discovery believe that in the long-term, support will be more inclusive and more person-centred, and better at helping people fulfil their potential.


What about Bindon Road?

Bindon Road does not have the capacity to act as a standalone day centre; it does not have the facilities. Consequently people we support at Bindon Road will see the same changes as those at Six Acres.

What does this mean for the people living at Ashbury, Brambles and Oak?

These sites are technically unaffected by the sale. However, the sale will leave these properties isolated and, for a while, in the middle of significant construction work. The sale of Six Acres now provides an opportunity to procure housing that better meets the needs of the people living there. We will therefore begin to explore alternative housing options, keeping the interests of the people we support in those locations at the forefront of any plans as they develop.  Plans for Oak have been separately, previously announced and are unaffected.

We realise that there is likely to be considerable frustration at the change to our published plan to assess the new hubs before acting on Six Acres. Nevertheless, we are committed to the vision for the future and our commitment to person centred support. Six Acres is in an isolated location and people with learning disabilities should be fully involved in their local community – which this change will facilitate.

If you are affected by the changes to Six Acres, or if your loved one is supported at Ashbury or the Brambles, you will shortly be invited to a meeting to discuss future plans. We’d like to reassure you that we will keep the people we support and families closely informed as things progress.

Day services elsewhere in Somerset

We realise that the news about Six Acres may concern those of you who use other day services elsewhere in Somerset; we know of no other planned changes beyond those we have previously announced, as below:

Minehead We will continue to use the Seahorse Centre, whilst developing this centre as a community hub.
Frome We will continue to use Colliers Court, whilst continuing to develop this centre as a community hub.
Yeovil We will continue to use St James, whilst continuing to develop this centre as a community hub.

We are closing the building called Fiveways and looking for other building/s to use alongside St James in the Yeovil area. This will involve a lot of work, therefore the project group will report on its progress to a local committee that has been established involving all stakeholder representation.

Taunton Following the information in this statement, and once we have a clear understanding of the council’s plans, we will set up a project group to ensure the best future for people affected.
Chard

Glastonbury

Bridgwater

We will continue to make use of our existing day service centres and continue to develop our support in each of these localities, whilst capturing the learning from Minehead, Frome and Yeovil as they develop.