County council defends its cost-cutting of care bill

By Rob George 26/04 Updated: 27/04 00:55

DISABLED residents across Bromsgrove and Droitwich could have to be cared for in residential or nursing homes under controversial cost-slashing proposals from Worcestershire County Council.

The authority issued the stark warning as it unveiled plans for a public consultation into ways it can save £200,000 from its Adult Social Care budget.

Care in residential or nursing homes as opposed to people's own homes is one of the options being presented as the county council looks to cap the amount it contributes towards the overall cost of community care packages.

The funding looks to support people with disabilities to live at home but needs to be slashed to avoid a 'looming financial crisis', according to the authority.

Existing users would not be affected under the proposals unless their care needs changed.

If adopted, the proposal could ask residents to meet any additional cost of care from their own savings or choose to take funding as a direct payment which would allow them to make their own care arrangements.

A reduction in the amount of care services is also being considered as is an increase in the amount of community support offered to residents.

The authority has not ruled out asking residents to be cared for by residential or nursing homes and said the cost of meeting individual community-based packages of care could be far higher than the cost of nursing or residential care.

Coun Philip Gretton, cabinet member with responsibility for Adult Social Care, said: "We must be clear that in no way is this proposal going to lead to people not receiving the care they need.

"All those who access social care services in Worcestershire will have their assessed care needs met, the issue is about ensuring they are met in the most cost-effective way for all Worcestershire residents who have a call on the resources we have."

He added it was not about forcing people into care homes against their well, but looking at cheaper options available.

And he said that could be supported living or shared lives schemes or that the service user or family contributes to the care cost.

"In the past service users have picked the services they want and we have, by and large, funded this - however in the financial climate we're in, we have to look at more cost-effective ways of meeting needs," he added.

A dedicated helpline and e-mail address will be set up to deal with queries and concerns and a public consultation will be launched in the coming weeks which will include face-to-face meetings with service users, carers and providers.

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