Dear Nightingales....

Written on 28/11/2011, 21:16 by alisonemery
Just a note to say thank you for the care and support you gave to my Mother during her last few weeks. The Carer’s were very sensitive to Mum’s needs and the needs of the family.The family are truly grateful, Karen

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Insensate Support cuts- a huge blow to the vulnerable

Having abandoned support for most of the vulnerable population of elderly and disabled people the Councils have shown their insensitive side. They think it is enough just to support the most severely disabled and their “duty of care” towards people who need support is done.

Most of these austerity measures are designed to make people lose vital support which provides them assistance with shopping, bathing or cooking. Charities have condemned the cuts as "inhumane", pointing out that these cuts would make the society's most vulnerable "utterly isolated". Disabled people are classified into one of four categories according to their needs: critical, substantial, moderate and low and the Councils decide which groups receive support.

A survey of local authorities in England based on Freedom of Information (FoI) requests carried out by The Independent found that only 14 per cent currently extend help to those with moderate needs. Next year, this will further reduce to 11 per cent Councils including Darlington, Rochdale and York are forced to make further cost cutting changes to social care budgets.

Darlington council is going to see a slash of 10 % in it’s adult social care budget. This means the care will be provided only to those in the critical and substantial categories. This tightening in budget and criteria will happen from December onwards. Rochdale council has ambitions to save £45m by 2015 and plans to do so by stopping the funding for those with moderate needs. The final decision will be taken in January and as of now the plans are out to consultation.

In York, close to 200 people will be losing support as the council has voted to withdraw its community care service for people with moderate needs, to save £390,000 a year.

All these cutbacks follow similar moves by other councils including Bolton, Calderdale, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Warrington and West Sussex, which narrowed their criteria last year and now only provide care to people who have been categorized as those with critical or substantial needs.

Council leaders claim to be doing their best to save social care provision after seeing their budgets slashed by £1.89bn. They urged the ministers to address the funding crisis, arguing that social care was "about to fall off a cliff edge".

The debate over public care funding will be reignited this week when councils' directors of public services deal with ministers over the care crisis at their annual conference.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: "Denying care to vulnerable older people who need help to live in safety and with dignity is frankly inhumane. Social care has already been cut to the bone leaving many older people without the help they need for day-to-day tasks like washing and dressing.”

"The news that more local authorities are planning to further restrict access is deeply concerning. Of those older people who risk seeing their current support cut or disappear completely, many will now fear what the future could hold."

The survey, based on 85 FoI responses from the 152 councils in England, found 3.5 per cent currently had a critical threshold, 81 per cent substantial, 14 per cent moderate and 1 per cent low.

The Government has recommended establishing a nationwide lowest qualifications standard to end the postcode sweepstakes which recognizes some people receive free care that is declined to others with the same level of need.

However, campaigners worry that the minimum standard could be set at substantial, increasing the chances of the remaining councils who continue to fund moderate or low needs to stop as well.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said: "Disabled people remain conspicuous by their absence in this discussion. One-third of social care users are disabled adults of working age. Care allows them to get out of the house, have a cooked meal or take part in their community. Without access to care, disabled people are left utterly isolated."

David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Authority's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "Sadly, it's not surprising that more and more councils are having to make increasingly tough decisions about the level of support they can provide to older people.”

"Local authorities are already facing a £1.89bn reduction in social care budgets and increasing demand from a rapidly ageing population. Unless this growing and immediate funding crisis is addressed things are going to get much worse."