Cuts to adult day care in West Lothian are set to save the council almost £250,000 from the budget.
The bulk of the savings, which amount to £188,000, will come from a cut in the number of buses and staff used to transport clients to and from the day care centres.
The rest will come in changes to facilities management and through the merging of three existing kitchens into one central preparation site.
There are three centres run by West Lothian Council including the Eliburn Day Centre and the Pathways Day Service operating from Quigley House, which provides support to people with moderate to severe learning disabilities.
The Ability Centre based at Livingston North Partnership Centre gives support to people with a range of physical disabilities and neuro conditions.
Additionally the Community Inclusion Team (CIT) operates from various council buildings and communities within West Lothian.
In a report to the Social Policy, Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) on Friday, Robin Allen, a senior manager in social policy said: “The proposal has taken account of available learning from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It will ensure adult day services continue to meet the needs of service users through a change in the model for transport and ancillary services while promoting choice and independence.”
Mr Allen’s report added: “The majority of service users attending the Community Inclusion Team opt to self-transport due to the varied locations they access to support from.”
Tory group leader councillor Damian Doran-Timson sought reassurances from officers that changes would be monitored.
He asked: “With regards to transport, is there any impact to current users, if there is what is the impact, and have they been consulted, and what’s the feedback?”
Mr Allen said there had been full consultation “and direct engagement” with the families involved.
He added that impact would be limited to nine service users.
He said: “The feedback we had from families has some concerns about the length of time that would be lost at the day care centre. Impact would be minimal, as users would leave 30 minutes earlier”
There would also be double runs to pick and drop off at homes for those who live close to day centres.
The transport is run by the council’s operational services and the changes will mean two buses will no longer be needed, with drivers and other staff deployed elsewhere.
One bus with driver and escort will continue to provide the service.
A report to the committee highlighted that prior to the pandemic the adult day care service was regularly used by 268 people.
The report added: “The day services began the remobilisation of provision in September 2020 in line with Scottish Government guidance. This resulted in capacity at all building-based services being reduced by 33% to ensure that staff and service users were able to maintain the required two-metre physical distance.
“Individuals were encouraged where possible to self-transport to provide further mitigation against the risks associated with Covid-19 transmission.
“Community transport continued to be offered thus ensuring all clients unable to self-transport were not adversely impacted.”
Councillor Doran-Timson said: “I wonder if we could get a report on how it’s going, feedback from the users on how things are so that we are satisfied that things are going in the right direction.”
Fellow members agreed. The savings proposals will have to be agreed by the council executive.
Reporting by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Sommerville