FOUR centres for people with learning difficulties could be closed, under a £4.2 million savings package being considered by council bosses.
Oaks Day Centre in Wath and Addison Day Centre at Maltby are under threat as well as two respite units — Treefields at Wingfield and Quarryhill in Wath.
Rotherham Borough Council says the traditional services do not offer enough independence for those with learning disabilities and autism.
The authority wants to see more customers using direct payments to set up their own activities.
Ian Fawcett’s daughter Debbie (53), who has a mental age of eight, has attended Oaks for nearly half a century.
“When she’s there, you see her personality change,” said Ian (75), of Kilnhurst. “It makes such a big difference to her. When it’s gone, she’ll just be sat at home.
“Some of the ideas they have come up with to do instead, like fishing or learning to drive, are just not possible for a lot of people who go to Oaks.
“We went to all the meetings last year about the future of Oaks but we stopped this year because we were totally disillusioned. We weren’t getting to know anything.”
Cabinet members will be asked to approve the start of 12 weeks’ consultation on July 11.
Oaks, on Oak Road, has a daily attendance of 80 but the council says it would cost £900,000 to refurbish.
The preferred option being presented to councillors is closure for Oaks and individual reassessments for all 111 customers.
No preference is given for Addison, which sees 90 people a day and offers more job and volunteer opportunities.
The council’s Parkhill Lodge nursing home at Maltby could be reconfigured to accommodate for the closure of Treefields and Quarryhill.
Reach Day Centre is proposed to be kept open but could move from its current premises at the Elliot Centre at Herringthorpe and Maple Avenue in Maltby.
Cllr David Roche, Cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Traditional services don’t allow for independence, choice and control.
“We know in some cases that these day centres are not providing choice or employment and volunteer opportunities yet they cost a lot of money to maintain.
“Some are not accessible to customers with complex needs. The corridors are very narrow, for example.
“We know not everyone is going to like these changes but we know from consultation that some people are totally committed to what we want to do.
One example given was a man who used direct payments to begin travelling to Barnsley FC away matches with carers and play for the club’s disability team.
Anne Marie Lubanski, the council’s strategic director of adult social care, said: “We know this will have a level of concern. Change is difficult for a lot of people.
“This is a journey and things aren’t just going to change overnight. We’ll work with people on an individual basis.”
The changes could also lead to job losses, the council has said. Staff were briefed on Wednesday (28).
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