20 March 2014
A major refurbishment of the Willows Day Care Centre in St Helier will lead to an enhanced range of services for people living with dementia in Jersey.
The Willows opened in December 1976, at the time it was Jersey’s only day care opportunity of its type.
The proposed five-month project is part of a major investment into community services outlined in the Health and Social Services Department’s 2012 White Paper ‘Caring for Each Other, Caring for Ourselves.’
The Willows is scheduled to close on Saturday 3 May. A party will be held for volunteers and those who use the service to mark the occasion. It will reopen in the autumn, providing a range of day care opportunities – including provision for younger Islanders who have been diagnosed with young-onset dementia.
Services transferring to the Willows Day Care Centre
Some existing services will be transferred to the Willows Day Care Centre from the Poplars Day Centre at Overdale, which will fill a more specialised role as an outpatient facility for patients with memory impairment.
The Willows is used regularly by around 30 Islanders, who attend on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays and are supported by the centre’s volunteer staff. It's also used by a number of local and national community groups such as:
- Jersey Society for the Disabled
- National Childbirth Trust
- Eating Disorders Support Group
- Jersey Macmillan Cancer Support
Alternative day care opportunities
Ann Marie Barrett, Project Manager, said one of the initial priorities had been to ensure arrangements were made to provide alternative day care opportunities for existing users of the Willows Day Care Centre. Efforts have also been made to source alternative venues for the community groups that use the facilities.
“This is an unsettling time for those who use the Willows, some of whom have been attending for many years,” she said. “Happily we have obtained alternative day care opportunities for service users at other centres including the Hollies, Sandybrook, The Good Companions’ Club and Age Concern, and with one exception the community groups have also found new locations.”
Jersey Society for the Disabled (JSD) seeking a venue
The Jersey Society for the Disabled is still seeking a venue in order for its weekly session, which currently caters for 25 disabled members and volunteers at the Willows every Thursday between 9am and 4pm.
“The loss of the use of the Willows is a great blow to the society – we have used the venue virtually every Thursday since its opening in 1976,” said Norman de la Haye, Chairman of the JSD. “We very much hope that an alternative venue will be found for us in order that we can continue our work with disabled people from all over the Island.”
Discussions are continuing between Health and Social Services and the JSD in a bid to source a suitable venue, with a number of potential facilities being considered.