Scotland

Ayr adult day care centre to reopen after unlawful closure

craig mchattie.jpg
Image caption The legal challenge was brought by the father of day care centre user Craig McHattie

A Scottish council has been ordered by a court to reopen an adult care centre after its unlawful closure.

South Ayrshire shut down the Kyle Day Centre in Ayr, which looks after more than 20 adults with complex support needs, in December.

However, the area's integrated joint board (IJB), which administers social care, failed to consult families and staff before making the decision.

The council has now lost a legal challenge at the Court of Session.

The centre must be reopened on Monday - despite nine of 12 staff already accepting voluntary redundancy.

The council said the centre would reopen.

Image caption Roy McHattie (right) said Craig had been staying at home since the closure

The legal challenge was brought by Roy McHattie, whose son Craig has serious learning difficulties and mobility issues.

Mr McHattie told BBC Scotland's The Nine that South Ayrshire Council had been "arrogant" in its approach.

"They've just decided to steamroller through their proposal," he said. "We felt that there was no consultation whatsoever, no involvement of all the people who attended Kyle, the carers, guardians or the people themselves.

"It felt we were being rushed into a situation without the option of Kyle Centre still being there. That was not part of the options on the table. On that basis, we decided to take legal action."

Image caption The Kyle Day Centre must be reopened on Monday

In his court opinion last month, Lord Boyd of Duncansby stated that the failure to consult "went to the heart of the decision-making process".

He wrote: "That process was fundamentally flawed by the failure to consult persons who had a legitimate expectation of such consultation.

"It resulted in a feeling of grievance and injustice in the making of a decision which had profound implications for a group of vulnerable people."

Lord Boyd also stated that families were "kept in the dark until two months after the decision to close".

Families, he said, agreed to new care arrangements after the council had presented the closure as a "done deal".

A second consultation after the decision was made was also described by Lord Boyd as a "tick-box exercise".

Craig, 32, attended the centre five days a week and worked with a one-to-one carer.

His family said that alternatives offered by the council were unsuitable for him.

His father Roy said: "He's been staying at home. There's no place for him to go.

"He doesn't have the company of his peers at a care centre. Social contact for him is important as well. He doesn't verbally communicate but he is aware of others.

"That has been taken away from him."

Image caption John Glynn has received care from day services since he was a teenager

John Glynn also attended the centre for eight years. He has severe learning disabilities and has received care from day services since he was a teenager.

The 47-year-old now has a community care package, which his family says is unsuitable. He will return to the Kyle Day Centre on Monday.

"When he's at home, he's just like a caged animal," his sister Maureen said.

"He's cracking up now and if it wasn't for the day care carers coming in for him to break the day up, it would be a lot worse just now."

South Ayrshire's IJB must find savings of up to £4m in the next year across social care and children services.

Image caption Some Kyle users are currently attending the Hansel support village

Twelve of the Kyle Day Centre's attendees are currently attending the Hansel support village, near Symington.

Councillor Brian McGinley is deputy leader of the council and chairman of the South Ayrshire IJB.

Addressing the failure to consult over the closure of the centre, the councillor said: "That was a flaw and we apologise for that unreservedly.

"That is absolutely the lesson we have learned from this, that we need to do that consultation before the decision was made at the IJB. That consultation did not take place and we will rectify that."

He added: "Our understanding was that there would be consultation. We were looking to improve the service.

"But the fact is, because we have increasing demand and increasing costs, we need to ways of improving the service within the budget that is presented. So there are challenges."