Comment: concern over cuts to key services

16th December 2014, The new Scottish Shodow Cabinet outside the Scottish Parliament. Pictured Ken MacIntosh. Credit Steven Scott Taylor/ JP Press License

16th December 2014, The new Scottish Shodow Cabinet outside the Scottish Parliament. Pictured Ken MacIntosh. Credit Steven Scott Taylor/ JP Press License

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Like many local people, I was deeply concerned to hear last week that Age Concern Eastwood’s Dementia Project is having to reduce the number of day care places it offers following cuts to their funding grant.

For the past 22 years, Age Concern Eastwood have worked in partnership with the local authority to provide fantastic and much valued support to people suffering from dementia including alzheimer’s.

It is a service which is greatly appreciated by families across East Renfrewshire and a service that I do not believe we could cope without.

Based on the current prevalence rates, the number of people with dementia is set to double within the next 25 years underlining the expectation that demand for services such as those offered at The Stables is also only set to increase.

Many readers will be aware of how cruel and distressing this condition can be for both patients and their families and I have the greatest admiration for the staff and volunteers at The Stables who have made the Centre such a warm, welcoming and caring environment for all who use it.

I have written to the local authority to raise my own concerns about the funding cuts and to seek assurances that those members of our community who rely on this vital service will continue to receive the support they need.

It is, however, worth noting that these funding cuts are directly related to demands from the Scottish Government to East Renfrewshire Council to reduce its spending by around £20 million over the next couple of years.

Locally this is directly affecting the future of the Dementia Project, of Bonnyton House and of our day centres for people with learning disabilities and we are not alone with every council across Scotland having to make similar cuts to social care services.

It strikes me that by demanding such huge cuts, the Scottish Government is risking the vital social care so many families rely on at a time when our NHS is already reaching

We should be celebrating the prospect of living ever-longer and ever-healthier lives in Scotland, not living in anxiety about whether we will be cared for or not in our old age.

Ministers in Edinburgh need to face up to the consequences of their decisions and support both health and social care in a way that allows everyone in Scotland to enjoy the highest quality of life well for as long as possible.

The Eastwood Dementia Project would be a good place for them to start.