Monday, 2 January 2012

Care for the elderly in Crisis - Medway Council to take note?

On 16th December Councillor Alan Jarrett the deputy leader of Medway Council and Portfolio holder for finance wrote in "Party People" (in the Medway Messenger) about proposals concerning Medway's care homes; Balfour Centre, Robert Bean Lodge, Platters Farm and Nelson Court.

Councillor Jarrett stresses that the council is trying to create value for money and;

Ensure that Medway Tax payers get even better value.

Ok. I get that. As a tax payer I expect the local authorities to make periodic reviews, after all you don't want a Wasteful council that rashly spends the tax payer's money on white elephants...

However the more I read Cllr Jarrett's piece, which I'm sure was supposed to reassure the people that nothing was a "done deal", it read like it had been written rather uncaringly.

It means the Balfour centre is no longer financially viable.

Even though numbers using the facility have only fallen to 1071 visits P.A from 1618 PA which is hardly a conclusive drop.

The three residential Care homes are increasingly uneconomic.
One would hope that as much "In house" efficiency saving has been carried out.
Councillor Jarrett then goes on to suggest that more "Modern Provisions" can be achieved by an "Out-sourced model"
I hope that the consultation process is done openly and fairly without pre-conclusions and that everyone's point of view is taken into account especially with the Council's budget coming soon.

Last week's Guardian ran a story about social care for the elderly being in "Absolute Crisis"

 Michelle Mitchell of Age UK, citing the King's fund research said;

"Care is in crisis and it is getting worse. We have evidence to show that local authorities have cut care for older people by 4.5% this year, and this at a time when social care is chronically underfunded anyway."

Age UK also shows that 1.8 Million pensioners are beneath the poverty line and 1 million in severe poverty. This is an awful state of affairs that we find ourselves in nationally!

This is the last remnants of the generation that fought to keep us democratic and free of NSDAP Germany and others who helped build this country through the 50's and 60's and we're letting them suffer like this! With the cost of living and privatised care rising and pension's values staying stable or decreasing how can people be expected to survive?

Paul Burstow MP, Care services minister said that:

The evidence is clear: the most innovative councils are protecting access to elderly care services and getting better outcomes. They are doing it by listening to carers and service users to develop new ways of working.

He has also indicated that an extra £7.2 billion over four years is being provided to local Authorities to help protect vulnerable people's services and a further £300000 has been invested in a Local Government scheme to improve their productivity.

My Grandfather, a very wise man, once said that he only supported three charities,
Salvation army because I saw the good they did during the War and as a Policeman, Demelza House care home and Help the aged... you never know what will happen and one day I could be in need of their help.
The point being that if there is anything where a loss can be accepted it is definitely elderly care, with a growing elderly population the costs are going to go up and it is worth the investment, as Granddad said - you never know it might be you needing a care home one day.

I feel that if the council doesn't fully explore all the options and does just rush into out-sourcing the care homes they will leave people suffering or with a lack of care. I'm not trying to scare monger or cause a panic at this time merely stating what could be a very real possibility and would urge all those with an interest to watch the consultation's very carefully. As Councillor Jarrett has said Medway has an excellent record but it could quickly fall away and be on par with Ms Mitchell's statistics with the rest of the country if it isn't done right.

Finally, after 4280 elderly people died in Kent in last year's winter snows, the highest figure in for a region nationwide, Age UK has started the Winter Pledge that will raise awareness of the plight of the elderly.
This pledge is backed by local MP Tracey Crouch;
By raising awareness and making sure that older people are prepared, we can end this completely avoidable tragedy.

The Coalition Government has protected the Winter fuel allowance and Warm home discount scheme as well as schemes to help insulate homes and double glazing should all help even with the increase in fuel bills and the Fuel poverty that seems to be increasing.

But this pledge is definitely a good thing and should be supported and more can be read here.


Party People, Medway Messenger, 16th December

MP pledges her support to raise awareness over winter deaths, Medway Messenger, 2nd Janaury 2012

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