THE last council day centre for the elderly is closing, amid sweeping changes to care services.

Barnsley Council plans to close Highgate Social Centre in April to slash £200,000 from the current £600,000 a year costs.

It also intends to cancel drop-in centre contracts with Age UK and independent care providers at three care homes in Mapplewell and Athersley in a complete change to the way it provides care for the elderly and vulnerable adults.

The changes means older people will have more choice on what activities and care they receive, but the council is vague about what is being provided.

A report, approved by the council's ruling cabinet, called for a multi-layered approach with specialist care for dementia sufferers, centres for people to visit based in six areas and a scheme where vulnerable adults can spend the day in a carer's home.

It has been prompted by a review, following the closure of Highfield Grange in Wombwell last year, which states there has been a lack of take up of care services over the last 12 months - with most centres runnings at just 50 per cent capacity.

The review also found many of the buildings being used needed updating.

It added: "Service users will be supported in the re-provision of care services and every effort will be made to ensure current friendships are sustained.

"It is recognised there may be anxiety with existing users through the period of uncertainty and change. This will be managed in partnership with carers and relatives."

Phil Wormald, chief executive officer at Age UK Barnsley said: "We've known for three years that the council has been looking to reshape day care services.

"We're waiting to see what the documents look like and then we'll be looking to see if Age UK can continue to offer care."

Cllr Jenny Platts, spokeswoman for adults and communities, said: "The introduction of personal budgets has given people more choice and control over how their care needs are met.

"The changes to modernise the service will ensure we can offer people the choices they want, providing a variety of stimulating and varied day activities across the borough that are tailored to support their individual needs by providing a service that's fit for the future."