Essex: Major shake-up of older people’s services will see people staying in their own homes for longer in bid to save £35m
- Credit: Archant
County Hall hopes to save more than £35million as part of a shake up of how older residents in Essex are cared for – prompting fears there will be no “compassion” in the service.
The main principle of the Older People Programme from Essex County Council is to help people stay in their own home for longer, reducing the reliance on health and care provision.
A decision to launch the initiative, which will cost £498,000 to implement, was made on Thursday and published yesterday.
Altogether the programme hopes to make cumulative cash savings of £35.3m by 2017/18 with a £15.7m cut in baseline funding.
However Mike Le Cornu, chairman of the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “I’m very suspicious. We are not opposed to savings up to a point, but we are to cutting services.
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“Ideally people would prefer to stay in their own home – if the services are there.
“It is a drive all of the time to cut costs. What is missing is the compassion.
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“You always hear about people getting a 15 minute visit, which is hardly time to say ‘good morning’ and ‘goodbye’, and the staff involved are not well-paid.”
The authority says there is an urgent need for change as in the next 20 years the over-85 population is expected to increase by 124% to 77,400 in Essex, with 391,400 over-65s, up 57%.
There are three strands to the transformation project.
The Older People Programme aims to “shift the focus of services to a more preventative, integrated and targeted approach” and includes moving the hospital discharge team into the community.
A second element, Strengthening Communities: Community Agents for Older People, hopes to support 6,000 vulnerable older people annually with early intervention based around 36 workers and a wider network of volunteers.
The final area, integrated Residential Nursing and Continuing Health Care, looks to standardise care and introduce common pricing across care homes in Essex.
Anne Brown, county councillor for adult social care and public health and wellbeing, said the authority was also investing heavily in its occupational therapy programme.
She said: “We have an increasing number of older people who are living for longer. This is putting the health and social care systems under increasing strain and they are simply not sustainable given the considerable funding gap.
“In a paper published by the council last month we outlined our concerns and called for decisive action from the next government.
“In the meantime, we are investing significantly in a transformation programme to help us deliver much more cost-effective services, moving the focus towards independent living.
“We are also working closely with our colleagues in health to join up health and social care systems, ensuring that we spend our money effectively and avoid duplication.”