Cash crisis blamed for re-think over care

By Rob George Thursday 15 November 2012 Updated: 19/11 09:50

DISABLED people across Worcester could be forced into nursing or residential homes after Worcestershire County Council approved controversial plans to cap the amount it spends on supporting people to live independently.

In a bid to slash £500,000 over four years from its budget, the council’s decision-making cabinet has approved a proposal to introduce a maximum expenditure limit on the amount it will contribute to the overall cost of individual care packages to allow people between 18 to 64 to remain in their own home.

There will be no blanket limit but it will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The changes will only apply to new residents who access the service or existing users who find their needs have changed.

Although the council will still aim to support people to live independently in their own homes, residents will be asked to meet any additional cost of care from their own savings or can choose to take funding as a direct payment and make their own arrangements with private providers.

Those that cannot afford to be cared for at home may be faced with the decision to go into a care home or ‘cluster’ flats with on-call nursing.

The council says it has to act as it is faced with a looming financial crisis.

Over the past six years budgets for younger adults have increased by £11million a year due to the growing number of people using the service and the increased complexity of their conditions and the care needed.

But Coun Philip Gretton, responsible for adult social care on the council, said the changes were not about forcing people into care homes.

“We are fully committed to supporting people to live independent lives for as long as it safe for them to do so, but we have to look more and more at doing this in the most cost effective way for all Worcestershire residents who have a call on our resources,” he added.

Ann Montague-Smith, chair of Worcestershire LINk which represents carers and service users, said: “The fear we have is even the slightest changes to the current care packages will impact on the client’s funding.

“There must be stability in place with the current care packages and if there are changes then people clearly know what and when those changes will happen.”

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