2. Link Centre Update

Oldham Council needs to make savings due to cuts in Government funding. One of the decisions taken to help make those savings was to redesign how we run the Link Centre service within the building and look to deliver services in a different way.

We need to save money from all areas of the council. No area is immune from these budget pressures.

Over recent years visitor numbers have fallen and those who use the service have reported a lack of atmosphere and focus.

A review of the service was carried out in 2016 to identify the future role it could play in supporting people to live independently for longer and reducing demand on key services such as A&E, hospital care and residential care services (our prevention agenda).

The review identified that, in order to contribute to our prevention agenda, we would need to maintain and modernise the building alongside increase our staffing levels within the service. That would mean significant investment at a time when the council has to make huge savings to its budgets. The alternative was to close the centre and look to provide services in a different way.

Our consultation findings

A 12 week consultation period took place with the public and Link Centre service users between 6 September and 29 November 2016.

The consultation identified these key themes:

  • Generate more income through hiring out rooms / renting out space / re-opening the café / new ways of working.
  • Consider the impact on other services should this support be removed, as it would be more costly and intensive.
  • The building should remain open to ensure that people feel safe and aren’t isolated.
  • The services at the Link Centre are a lifeline for a number of residents.
  • Ensure other options are available if the Link Centre is to close, such as community facilities.
  • Invest time in getting it right, rather than closing it, ensuring effective promotion and investment.
  • This is the key accessible building, especially for disabled people, which will lead to an impact on accessibility of core support services.
  • The Centre acts as a hub for vulnerable residents.
  • Reassurance across all vulnerable communities about ongoing support and clear communication with them is required to mitigate any impact.
  • The Centre is centrally located which makes it significantly more accessible, especially for people with a disability.
  • Deliver savings in other areas of the council.
  • Ensure any ‘lost’ facilities are replicated elsewhere by the council or partners.

To ensure the council was meeting equalities legislation requirements, a detailed equality impact assessment was completed. This identified one gap – if the building was to close there would be a lack of accessible meeting facilities in Oldham.

Taking into account the identified gap and the issues raised from the consultation, a number of options were developed and taken to Cabinet for a decision:

  • Lease the building to a provider, either part or whole at a commercial rent, with a focus on the provider delivering services to vulnerable adults.
  • Transfer the building to an independent organisation who would continue to provide a range of support to vulnerable adults.
  • Lease the building to a service provider at nil rent, aligned to a service delivery contract which provides services similar to the current Link Centre service offer.
  • Generate additional income to offset the budget target, thus retaining the Link Centre service
  • Close off part of the building and offer a limited Link Centre service.

In January 2017, Cabinet approved the proposal to seek to tender out part of the service and use of the building to a private provider.

However, a number of challenges relating to the viability of proceeding with the proposed approach were identified, specifically:

  • Financial implications to the council and the provider
  • A lack of appetite within the voluntary and community sector to run the service
  • The investment needed to make sure the building is in a useable condition (£860k)

At the same time, a number of additional challenges relating to future estates accommodation requirements have been identified which place additional pressures on the council.

In October 2017, proposals were approved to decommission the Link Centre Service and relaunch the building as a centre for our health, social care and voluntary sector teams to work together.

What will the building look like?

The ground floor will provide Oldham’s accessible meeting space and the upper floors will house staff delivering our new health and social care services – Oldham Cares.

Oldham Cares is the new way health and social care services will be delivered. It will see council staff and partner agency staff housed together sharing knowledge, resources and skills to deliver a better health care experience for the resident.

Services previously offered by the centre are available across Oldham:

ICT facilities

You can access computers with free internet access in many council buildings including libraries and lifelong learning centres.

To see the full list visit:

  • Where to use computers for free

Bathing facilities

You can still use bathing amenities at our Extra Care Housing schemes located throughout the borough. The schemes also offer sensory and memory rooms, cafés and restaurants and a range of leisure activities.

Those people with complex needs who need hoist equipment will only be able to use the bathing facilities at Trinity house. They will be given one-to-one support to move to alternative provision and will continue to use the facilities as normal until we are confident that their needs have been met elsewhere.

The schemes are:

Trinity House, Godson Street, Oldham.

T: 0370 1924286

Aster House, Aster Street, Oldham.

T: 0370 1924318

Tandle View Court, Rochdale Road, Royton.

Shower facilities offered here

T: 0370 1924248

Charles Morris House, Gildenhall, Failsworth

T: 0370 1924613

Hopwood Court, Thornham Road, Shaw.

T: 0370 1924439

Old Mill House, Old Mill Lane, Springhead.

T: 0370 1924384

There is a charge of £2.50 for using the bathing facilities.

Sensory facilities

If you are a user of the sensory room an assessor will be visiting you shortly to carry out an assessment to ensure that you will still receive the service you need. If you have any questions about this, please contact us on 0161 770 4786.

Sensory facilities are also available at extra care housing schemes (see above)

Groups and meeting rooms

Building work is taking place from March 2018 to change the building’s purpose.  The ground floor will provide Oldham’s accessible meeting space and the upper floors will house staff delivering our new, integrated health and social care service – Oldham Cares.

Whilst this work is taking place, there are other accessible meeting rooms available – link to rooms available (see attached document).

Once available you will be able to book a room:

Who can I contact with concerns?

Residents can email their questions to link.centre@oldham.gov.uk or call 0161 770 4786