Councillors back home care shake-up

The “biggest change to adult social services” yet was given its final seal of approval yesterday as councillors debated controversial plans to privatise Norfolk's home care support.

The “biggest change to adult social services” yet was given its final seal of approval yesterday as councillors debated controversial plans to privatise Norfolk's home care support.

The county council's cabinet scrutiny committee picked over the radical proposals to hand over gradually 80pc of its service to private companies - a plan which was passed unanimously by the County Hall cabinet two weeks ago.

The areas affected will include long-term support packages and specialist dementia and palliative care, with the remaining 20pc staying in-house and focusing on intensive, short-term support to enable people to regain their mobility.

Yesterday, the committee was reminded that the over-85 population is set to rise by 12pc by 2012 and that “doing nothing is not an option”.

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services, said: “I support the proposal in its entirety. We need to move ahead to ensure that in five, six years' time we've still got funding available to have a very vibrant and improved home care service.”

Council leader Daniel Cox added: “Doing nothing is not an option and in 20 years' time the home care service will no longer be able to offer the same service.”

Most Read

The new strategy would be subject to Commission for Social Care Inspectorate (CSCI) regulations and inspections and would see initial, intensive support carried out by county council carers for the first 12 weeks before referring people in need to the private sector for continuing care.

Labour's Maran McKay said: “CSCI pointed out at their conference that what people value from carers is continuation of care, setting up a relationship with people during caring for them and that they feel safe and they are reliable.”

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, said he would keep members up to speed on any changes, with regular progress reports.

“It's not about what is on the pay slip but what they do when they are there, whether from the county council or the independent sector - so long as they know what their role is and the care that they need to provide.

“This is the biggest change to adult social services because this is the most important service and it needs to be done with care.”

The committee voted in favour of the matter not going back to cabinet.

Mr Mowle concluded: “I do accept that there are many people in this room that have social services as their prime objective.

“This proposal is more efficient, it gives us an improved service and it makes us better able to meet democratic growth within perceived budget settle-ments.”

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