Axe falls on adult social care

A DECISION not to provide for moderate levels of adult social care needs has been taken by West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services Peter Catchpole.

It means that the County Council will focus on substantial and critical level needs, bringing West Sussex in line with nearly 80 percent of English authorities who provide for substantial and critical, or critical level needs only.

The decision will see the County Council raise its threshold of eligibility for adult social care from April 1, 2011.

All recipients of adult social care will be reassessed. Any changes to the services or funds received by an individual will take effect over a period consistent with their needs and abilities.

The proposed change will secure net savings of £2.2 million in 2011/12 and £4.3 million in 2012/13. Of these savings, £750,000 will be reinvested in the voluntary sector each year, towards community development and activities that promote wellbeing and other alternative services. This investment will be further supported through the Health and Wellbeing Hubs, that will be in place by September 2011.

Peter said: “I want to reassure residents that I have taken into account the many comments and representations that have been made by the public and organisations, and comments made by the County Council’s Adults’ Services Select Committee.

“I have been reassured by officers that other services will be in place for those directly affected by this decision, including the Health and Wellbeing Hubs that will provide a central point of contact for information and advice, and a database of what’s available locally. The Hubs will also advise people on the many community activities available in their local area such as lunch clubs or healthy walks.

“I am fully aware of the strength of feeling towards the proposed changes. But the decision has to be seen against the backdrop of the County Council receiving one of the lowest grant settlements from the Government for the past nine years. The financial position is the worst we have ever faced, with a need to save £79 million as a Council over the next three years.”

It is estimated that around 4,500 residents who currently receive adult social care have at least one moderate need. However, the majority of those will also have some substantial or critical need and it is only the moderate needs that will be affected.

Peter added: “The proposals have been amended directly as a result of concerns raised through the consultation. This includes the need to recognise the differences in an individual’s needs and ability when setting a timescale for making the changes.

“We have also noted the concerns raised in respect of residents with learning difficulties. The County Council will support the continuation of services for such vulnerable adults which promote and maintain wellbeing and independence, and prevent the future need for more complex services. Vulnerable adults who are not eligible for funded social care and their carers will be advised of other available services.”

The County Council is also developing a model of future services to promote independence, and this means focussing resources on the Regaining Independence Support Service, telecare and the community equipment service which, together, will help minimise the impact of these changes.

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