Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Medway Council to make elderly suffer to save money

When the great Welfare state was created, under the influence of great Liberals Keynes and Beverage, it was to take care of the population who needed assistance between Cradle and the grave. Those who could not (or could not afford) to take care of themselves would be helped by the state.

Now the state, in the form of Medway Council, is to cut off the elderly, many of whom are not well, to save £2 million pounds now and £1m every year.

Conservative Councillor David Brake, of Walderslade ward, portfolio holder for adult health and social care told the press;

I can understand that people may be concerned about the possibility that things may change but I would like to assure those receiving adult social care services that they will continue to receive high quality care.
We aim to consult on the closure of the Balfour day centre whilst investing in community provision and continuing to provide day care for those that need and want this.
Equally, we are seeking to lower the cost of providing residential care by working with the independent sector in regards to Nelson Court, Robert Bean lodge and Platters farm lodge.
If, following a full and open consultation with users and their families, we do move towards these suggestions we will ensure that we select partners with an established and respected track record of providing high-quality care services and that they have a long-term and stable plan for delivering care and support in Medway.

 The proposals are part of the Council's Better, for less campaign to make streamline expenses but also to maintain excellent services.

Such initiatives include charging for day care and specialised transport to the venues. This could cost up to £175 a week for the care and £2's a day for the transport. With the state of pensions and the cuts in the Winter fuel allowance how are our pensioners supposed to afford this?
Also if we are doing this to care homes in Medway now, what will happen when I'm getting to retirement age in forty years time with little or no pension to speak of?

Also part of the initiative is;

  • Handing Robert Bean Lodge in Rochester and Platters farm Lodge in Rainham to a private provider.
  • Closing Balfour Centre in Rochester
  • Selling off Nelson Court in Chatham
  • Trying to claw back money from Wills of those who had money provided for home adaption.
Privatisation of these homes is never a good move. Councillor Brake says that a high quality partner will be found, which is a good thing as many people will have seen in the News in recent years about the poor quality care that can be provided by companies. However with "Good Quality" comes high prices, prices that can go up and up and up until suddenly elderly care is only for the rich. In fact one user on the Medway Pensioners Forum stated;
When care homes are sold or out-sourced to private sector care becomes secondary to profit.

Closing Balfour Centre has been legitimised by the fact that the figures have fallen by 33% in the last year. This is true as in 2009/10 the number of visits came to 1618 and in 2010/11 it was 1071. The centre caters for 108 people and provides much needed support for elderly and their families. It provides an environment that they can socialise and par take in hobbies such as painting - Without them how many people will just stay at home and wait to die?
It sounds dramatic but it is true. After my Grandmother died my Grandfather spent so much time at home, having demolished all the books of interest from Gillingham Library and with the strains of modern life meaning that we, his family. could not spend as much time we wanted to with him meant he was often on his own bored and watching the clock.
In other cases these centres provide much needed rest for the families of those in need of care, it means they can have some "me" time and do the things they want or need to do.

This is the same with the selling off of Nelson’s Court in Gillingham. This is a SPECIALIST dementia care home for 28 people. With Dementia becoming a more and more common disease it is an important place and the Council just want to get rid. What are the dementia sufferers and their families supposed to do? Is this a case of the council victimising or not caring about the most vulnerable in society?

If this wasn’t bad enough there is also a scheme to recoup money that was given for home improvements from the estates of the deceased! So if your Grandparents were granted money to have their house adapted to make life easier for them and so they wouldn’t have to go into residential care, then the council may be coming after their estate after they have died.
We’re sorry to hear of the sudden death of Mr Petersen... Please send a cheque for £45,000’s to Medway Council c/o Gunwharf...
It is absolutely despicable.

It is doubly despicable that Medway Council are trying to save £2 million pounds, the same amount of money that was wasted bailing out Woodlands school, nearly the amount of money the new Bus station is over budget, a third of what is needed to bring Medway Tunnel up to safety levels, a probable chunk of what is needed to rebrand the future "City of Medway".

The Conservative led Medway Council have a habit of throwing our money around and according to the Audit Committee;

"In the first 6 months of 2011/12 financial year, the investigations team has identified £646,000 of fraudulent overpayments, comprising £325,000 housing and council tax benefit and £294,000 of Department for work and Pensions paid benefits."

Who is losing out? The vulnerable and the poor - the very people that we should be helping in their old age in the same way that we would want to be helped when we reach the age.

There is a demonstration at Gun Wharf at 1.45 today, an e-petition to save Nelson Court and a Facebook group:

and it has the support of the local Liberal Democrats and Trade Unions. Please support the Facebook campaign and sign the petition, no matter what your party allegiance.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting blog. I am a Registered Nurse exploring the idea of gathering some of these investments and turning them into Social Enterprise .. Can you or any followers give me any email for these groups of people trying to save these homes .. thanks ... Wholegraincharity@hotmail.co.uk