Major shake-up in care services for Norfolk’s most vulnerable sparks concern over its impact

Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A major shake-up in the way Norfolk's most vulnerable people are cared for is to be launched this autumn, but concerns have been raised over its impact.

Hilary MacDonald, chief executive of Age UK Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith

Hilary MacDonald, chief executive of Age UK Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant � 2012

Conservative-run Norfolk County Council needs to save £125m over the next four years and leaders have set a target to shave £31m from the adult social care budget.

One of the ways they are seeking to do that is to 'reset social work', reducing people's dependency on council services, such as residential homes and helping people live independently.

The council is bringing in 50 extra social workers, but critics fear taking so much money out of adult social care spending is 'unworkable'.

The council describes its proposed new 'living well' policy as having been 'tried and tested' in 20 other councils.

Shelagh Gurney, vice-chair of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Photo: Shelagh G

Shelagh Gurney, vice-chair of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Photo: Shelagh Gurney - Credit: Shelagh Gurney


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They say social workers will assist people to remain or regain independence using help in their own communities and social networks first and foremost.

But they acknowledge the move away from people with needs being matched to services such as day centres and residential homes will be a 'big shift'.

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Shelagh Gurney, vice-chairman of the adult social care committee, pictured above right, said: 'We know that most people are happier and healthier if they can continue to live in their own homes and we want to work more closely with families, neighbourhoods and communities to help make this happen.

'We are recruiting 50 additional social workers to make sure that our hard-pressed teams have the time to really listen and understand the challenges faced by people, working with them to maximise their independence and to help us introduce this new approach across Norfolk.'

However, Hilary MacDonald, chief executive of Age UK Norfolk, pictured above left, previously warned making more than £30m of cuts in adult social care spending was 'unworkable'.

She had warned: 'There is simply no avoiding the fact that a growing ageing population brings a requirement for more, not less, investment in health and care services.'

County councillor Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat spokesman for adult social care said a lack of government money made it 'inevitable' services would have to change, but feared the shift could heap so much initial pressure on social workers that the service could 'grind to a halt'.

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