Suffolk set to alter how it arranges care after missing savings targets

Councillors heard about savings in the care budget at the meeting at Suffolk's Endeavour House headq

Councillors heard about savings in the care budget at the meeting at Suffolk's Endeavour House headquarters. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk has failed to make great savings in the cost of providing care for people in their own homes – and is now preparing to look again at the service when new contracts are negotiated in two years’ time.

In 2015/16 the council re-organised the way it provides personal care, trying to ensure that it had a comparatively small number of large contracts with providers rather than a large number of individual contracts with carers.

Officials always knew there would be a reduced number of smaller contractors hired on a “spot” basis to ensure everyone who needed care received it. But the target was for these “spot” carers to only make up about 10% of the total in Suffolk.

However only about 50% of care is currently administered under the larger contracts – and the total bill for the care in the county last year was £38.1m.

The county’s health scrutiny committee heard about the difficulties in introducing the new system at its meeting earlier this week – and was told that managers were already talking to providers about making changes when new contracts start operating in September 2019.

You may also want to watch:

The committee heard that at the end of August this year there were 3,009 home care users receiving 38,732 hours per week. In the last financial year, 2016/17, this equated to a total of 5,585 customers and 1,927,310 hours provided.

The council currently works with a total of 85 care providers – some are large businesses with a turnover of more than £500,000 a year while others are individual carers.

Most Read

A spokesman for the council said: “The new system that was introduced two years ago has not introduced the level of savings that had been hoped.

“This is part of a process of looking at how to improve things and what to do when the new contracts come into play in 2019.”

He said the council had already started talking to care providers to try to get their views on how packages should be organised in the future.

As the population ages, it is likely that people needing care at home will be increasingly frail.

The spokesman added that older and disabled people ususally told the council that they want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, and it is likely that care at home will remain much cheaper than being cared for in residential accommodation.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter