Why we love Foxhall Day Care Centre

MENTION the words 'day care centre' and you might be forgiven for thinking about old people sitting in a circle asleep. But the truth is far removed from the stereotype.

MENTION the words 'day care centre' and you might be forgiven for thinking about old people sitting in a circle asleep. But the truth is far removed from the stereotype. Feature writer JAMES MARSTON spends a morning with some of the older generation.

TO be honest, I wasn't much looking forward to visiting a day care centre.

I thought 'they'll all be old, have little to say and most will be sitting quietly, heads bowed, perhaps even asleep' - but I was proved to be very, very wrong.

Foxhall Day Care Centre in Parliament Road, Ipswich, is a hive of activity and as soon as you walk into the room you are struck by the sound of conversation and laughter.

They're a cheerful bunch and far removed from the stereotype.

Run by Alan Woods, the centre is open to everyone in the Ipswich borough over the age of 60 and up to 28 attend every day Monday to Friday.

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Alan, 47, said: “Our aim is to offer physical, psychological and social support to older people. It's more structured than a drop-in centre.”

Not only is the centre a place to spend the day, enjoy a meal and relax, 'members' - as those who go along are known - are offered a variety of activities and support.

Alan said many older people live alone, and the centre provides a social network and focus for the week.

He added: “It's a good way of combating loneliness and we also aim to stimulate both mind and body.

“Often visiting the centre can restore people's confidence and a way for people who can be quite isolated to forge friendships.”

But the cost of day care can stop some older people coming to the centre. Alan said: “People have to pay £10.70 plus transport. It can be difficult for people on a fixed income.”

Cuts made in the last 18 months by social care services, mean the 100 places a week funded for pensioners have been cut to 83. Alan said: “It is a shame, as it has left people lonely and unsupported. It's not that expensive and these people deserve a small act of kindness. Many have been through a world war.”

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for Adult and Community Services, said: “The work of all day care providers is very valuable.

“In this case, the service provided by Age Concern is an important way of meeting the needs of people in that part of Ipswich.

“Grant funding to organisations such as Age Concern has been replaced by targeted funding to provide care for those individuals with critical and substantial needs.

“Where day care places have been provided on an in-house basis to date, that investment is now going into the community and absolutely no money will be withdrawn.

“So while the way in which funding is provided has changed, the council is very much committed to investing in care at the Foxhall Day Care Centre to provide for the needs of vulnerable people.

“Where individuals are attending fewer sessions, it is because assessment shows a reduced need.”

Run by Age Concern and costing £180,000 a year, the day care centre is staffed with the help of 30 volunteers but always need more.

With 14 people on the waiting list, the Foxhall Day Care Centre remains popular.

Alan added: “We want to offer as much as possible, to as many people as we can. We want to attract people here and let them know it isn't a place where people sit nodding off in their chairs.

“It is not always easy for people to ask for help, but when people come here they really enjoy it.

“We have lots of music and entertainment and it is a busy and safe place to be.”

What do you think of Foxhall Day Care centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Card making.

Visits by a foot health practioner every six weeks.

Bathing service.

IT training and internet access.

Hair dressing service.

Guest speakers - on a range of topics from the benefit system to local history.

Chemist/prescription service.

Emergency shopping servce.

Board games.

Crafts.

Music and entertainment.

Holy Communion every six weeks.

Lunch every day with a choice of four main courses.

Library.

“In the 1990s my husband came here as a member on a Wednesday. When he died I thought I would come back and help out.

“I really enjoy it and it gives me a day out as well. I like to think I am helping others. It is a very happy atmosphere.”

Phyllis Mann, 78, who has volunteered at the centre for the last 16 years.

“The day care centre has been my lifeline. I used to come here two days a week but I was reassessed and social care services only pay for one day a week now. I couldn't afford to pay for the other day.

“I suffer from depression and coming here has been my therapy. People should be funded properly. I can be expensive.”

Joe Cassidy, of Baldry Close, who was making a model traction engine out of matches.

“I like coming here and I don't think it is that expensive. It costs me about £15 to come here once a week and it's the only day out I have, so I don't worry too much about the cost.

“I like the atmosphere and I enjoy talking to people. I look forward to coming every week.I'm one of the oldest here today. I don't mind paying.”

Retired barmaid Grace Rooke, 92, from Peppercorn Way, Ipswich, enjoys one day a week at the centre.

FOR too long the older generation has been overlooked as people suffer care homes closing, dwindling pensions, hospital wards closing, and not enough carers in the community.

Our Golden Years campaign aims to make sure that the older years really are Golden Years.

We will:

Listen to our older generation.

Fight for dignity in old age.

Make sure older people get the voice they need to raise the topics that matter to them.

Crusade on issues affecting pensioners.

Inform older people about the help and assistance available for them.

Dig out those inspirational stories that show old age need not be the barrier to a fulfilled and active life.

Champion achievement

If you have a story for Golden Years, call the newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk or write to The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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