Date: 21/11/2011 Category: Social Care
More and more people are actively choosing the type of Adult Social Care services they receive and Medway Council now aims to consult with them to reflect this shift.
Personalised budgets, brought in nationally in 2004, mean adults with social care needs have been given the freedom to make their own choice by selecting how they spend the money provided to help them.
And, as people have opted to do this, it has led to many moving away from more traditional care provision.
For instance, the number of people using day care centres in Medway has dropped by more than a third in the last year alone from 1,618 to 1,071.
At the same time, the amount the council spends on personalised budgets to enable people to choose the kind of service they want has risen by 17 per cent, from £5.9m million to £6.9million a year.
In recent years, all councils have been encouraged to commission care and support for those with Adult Social Care needs rather than provide services themselves.
Now, with numbers using day care centres dropping, the council’s Cabinet will decide next week (Tuesday, 29 November, 2011) whether to start a consultation with users and their families about closing the Balfour Day Centre, in Rochester.
The number of people registered with the Balfour Centre has dropped by 20 per cent in the past year to 108 while average daily attendance figures have dropped from 43 in August this year to 34 in October.
The council has already funded different projects and activities to meet the new demand for diversity that it is encountering.
For example, funding has been provided for new gym equipment for disabled people at Strood Leisure Centre and an additional £50,000 has been made available for this to be replicated in other leisure centres.
This equipment was provided after people who use adult social care services specifically asked for it as this allows them to maintain an active social life as well as keeping healthy.
Elsewhere, the council has worked with Age Concern Chatham to provide new day opportunities and we are investing in practical solutions for people with special needs such as providing special town centre toilets called Changing Places.
The facility has already opened in Rochester, and more are planned across Medway.
Current estimates are that it costs on average £1,000 per week per bed in a council run care home compared to £500 per week in an independent one.
This is because independent residential care homes benefit from economies of scale, market themselves further afield to fill beds, and that councils only pay per bed in an independently run home rather than for every single overhead in a council one.
In fact, twenty one per cent of the council’s budget for providing residential care is spent on council run care homes when they only offer three per cent of the beds available in Medway.
Now the council aims to consult with residents and their families to sell Nelson Court residential home, in Chatham, and to outsource care at Robert Bean Lodge, in Rochester, and Platters Farm Lodge, in Rainham, to independent providers, whilst retaining ownership of these two buildings.
All three care homes would continue and no residents would need to move home - it would be a change of ownership not a closure. The staff will be consulted.
Medway Council already works with independent care homes in the local area that deliver high quality care.
And if, following consultation, the council does opt for this route it will ensure that only Care Quality Commission registered, stable, established and respected independent care providers take over these homes.
Cllr David Brake, Portfolio Holder for Adult Health and Social Care, said: “We have a duty to ensure our residents receive the Adult Social Care they need.
“I can understand that people may be concerned about the possibility that things may change, but I would like to assure those receiving adult social care services that they will continue to receive high quality care.
“We are finding that people are opting to take control of the kind of care and support they receive and taking advantage of the freedom of choice personalised budgets offer.
“This increased take up of a more diverse range of services are all paid for from the council’s adult social care budget and we need to be able to move with this change and provide for people within the budget we have available.
“We aim to consult on the closure of the Balfour Day Centre whilst investing in community provision and continuing to provide day care for those that need and want this.
“Equally, we are seeking to lower the cost of providing residential care by working with the independent sector in regards to Nelson Court, Robert Bean Lodge and Platters Farm Lodge.
“If, following a full and open consultation with users and their families, we do move towards these suggestions we will ensure that we select partners with an established and respected track record of providing high quality care services and that they have a long-term and stable plan for delivering care and support in Medway.”