I was pleased to see that the Canolfan Pennar Community Hub in Mountain Ash has recorded over 37,000 uses since the facility opened in June. I have previously written on the need and importance of the development of community hubs as a way of bringing services together and tackling issues such as loneliness and social isolation across Rhondda Cynon Taf, and I hope that these figures are a good indicator of the successes that we can expect from our future developments.
The facility has certainly been packed on every occasion that I have visited and it is great to see the community really having a central focus in a prominent and accessible town centre location. A similar development has also been completed in Ferndale, whilst further schemes are also planned for Porth and at the Council-retained building in Llys Cadwyn in Pontypridd. Sometimes it is necessary to make brave decisions in order to respond to modern challenges and demands by delivering the necessary improvements.
This is an approach that we have also taken in our efforts to modernise and improve the range of options available to our older residents with regards to residential care. You may be aware that the Cabinet recently agreed to undertake a further 12 week consultation on the future of our homes, and no decision will be made until the results of this are considered and formally presented by Officers.
RCT currently operates 11 residential care facilities across the County, which is a significant number when compared with other Welsh Local Authorities and, it is clear that despite the ever-growing demand on our social care services, this is in no way a cost saving exercise. To the contrary, our commitment to improving the range of options available is clear, as we will be delivering a circa £50m investment in the creation of Extra Care facilities across RCT, to allow us to cater for a greater range of needs whilst crucially offering older residents a greater degree of independence.
There is a clear trend of our older residents increasingly choosing to receive care and support in their own homes and the Extra Care model allows for a substantial amount of that to be maintained. For instance, the facilities will permit for partners to live together and, additionally, every single unit will be equipped with assistive technology and an en-suite bathroom.
As well as delivering an additional 300 beds, Extra Care allows for the specialization of specific needs, such as the creation of dementia wings which will allow for an improved range of services for residents with complex requirements. This model of care allows for the level of support to be tailored to the specific needs of the individual and this can be escalated or stepped down as required.
We have made it absolutely clear that the Council wishes to retain a significant leading presence in the care market, with a preferred option being consulted upon that would see seven of the existing residential care facilities being retained. Further, should the proposals progress, we have given a commitment that there would be no compulsory redundancies in recognition of the fantastic levels of care that our staff provide. This is clearly a sensitive issue and, should the proposals proceed, we would ensure that any decommissioning be carried out on a phased basis, dependent on individual circumstances and ensuring that alternative or new accommodation would be available. Further information on the proposed changes can be found here.
Residents may also be aware that Transport for Wales are in the process of renewing the current travel passes as they are due to expire at the end of this calendar year, although the current passes will remain active until December 31st 2019. The quickest and easiest way to renew your bus pass is to complete the process online via www.tfw.gov.wales/travelcards. Alternatively paper forms can be downloaded at https://tfw.gov.wales/travelcards or requested from Transport for Wales. The new style passes will offer the same benefits as the current ones and will have an expiry date based on the holder’s birthday to avoid bulk renewals in the future.
Finally, preparations are now well underway for the 2019 edition of the Nos Galan Road Races, with the demand once again being significant for all race categories. The third release of registration will open at 6pm on Monday, 23rd
September, where additional places will once again be made available for all four event categories (Adult fun run, Men’s elite, Women’s elite and Children’s races). Don’t forget that, subject to availability, you can still register for places at any time outside of the additional space releases.