By Audlem Webteam - 31st December 2011 7:02am
Cheshire East has been singled out on the BBC News, national newspaper and other media coverage because of the high cost of its adult social care.
The BBC and articles in the Guardian and elsewhere say people living in the London borough of Tower Hamlets pay nothing for personal care, while those in Cheshire East are charged more than £20 an hour.
Cheshire East Council has defended the allegations that it charges the highest hourly rate for social care — £20.34.
Strategic Director for children, families and adults, Lorraine Butcher, spoke out for the need for reforms.
“The authority waits with interest the advent of the White Paper on Adult Social Care early in the new year which looks at the absolutely essential reforms to the way social care is funded.
“We are also fully aware of the recommendations that Andrew Dilnott has put forward in his review, recommendations that we endorse fully. These are particularly important given the specific challenge for Cheshire East in that we have a rapidly ageing population, which is significantly higher than most areas of the country.
“Cheshire East Council has been compared with Tower Hamlets, which it is claimed charges nothing for home care. The analysis that is referenced is misleading and the figures quoted are in isolation from the bigger picture. Delivery of social care provision to vulnerable adults is changing rapidly across the country and within Cheshire East.
“Within the Borough, relatively few people receive home care provided through traditional care services at the price indicated. A higher number of older people receive a free service through our reablement programme which supports them for a period of up to six weeks following discharge from hospital.
“This successful service is not charged for and represents, on a full year basis, over £3m of free home care provided in the Borough.
“It is recognised that if people are given concentrated support after a debilitating illness, they can resume a relatively normal life requiring little or no home support.”
Mrs Butcher added: “If the comparison is to be made with Tower Hamlets, then it must be remembered that Government funding for Cheshire East is among the lowest in the country.
“We are given per head of population £191.62: Tower Hamlets is given £968.18 per head. This means we can afford to spend per head only £753.42: Tower Hamlets is almost double that at £1,428.16. The funding context for each local authority area is an important feature of costs and charges being made.
“While these figures don’t explain the price, they do certainly set the context in which we are forced to work. And if people are not in a position to pay in full or a partial contribution, (we only take into account 97% of an individual’s disposable income) then no charge is made. The only time a care user has to pay fully for services is if they have more than £23,250 in savings. Then we charge only 97% of the cost.”
Mrs Butcher went on to explain how individual care needs are met. “A personal assessment of needs is made when the Council is first contacted. Each individual’s needs are different and any charges are related to those specific individual needs. It could include help with things such as getting in and out of bed or help with personal hygiene.
“We no longer generally provide traditional home care services although there are a smaller number of service users who prefer to receive this service. Instead, we have actively championed personalisation. Indeed, a recent report by the Audit Commission placed the Council in the top three nationally for take-up of personal budgets by older people and those with disabilities.
“We provide personal budgets for individuals and encourage service users to use a brokerage service provided by Age UK, to pay for services from the private sector. We commission Age UK and the brokerage service to the care user is free. People are only charged if they can afford it.
“The great majority of users do take advantage of this service. A minority do ask us instead to broker the services, which we then do on their behalf.”
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