Community Offer – what lies behind the nicely named consultation

Barnet Council intends to make a saving of £1.347 million in Barnet Adult Social Care in 2014/5. The proposals to do this are called the Community Offer – CADDSS believes this is a cut price way to offer inadequate services to support Barnet residents in their own homes. So what’s on offer?

At the Annual Review each person being assessed for social care receives, social workers should persuade people to choose direct Payments to pay for the social care services they need. This can give people more choice and flexibility in the care they receive. What’s in it for the Council? As costs of services increase people may not get increases in direct payments, they could stay the same or go down. Even if people are charged VAT for some services this 20% increase will not be covered by the direct payments. They will not have enough money to meet the charges. But the Council will make a saving. TIP – you are not obliged to take direct payments or you can use direct payments to pay for some services and not others. Knowing this can help you save money, but may not allow the Council to make so many savings so they are not offering to tell you this.

The Council wants to see if it can change or reduce someone’s support by making them more independent. At their Annual Review Barnet residents will probably see their care packages reduced.Social workers working in Learning Disabilities were set a number of targets one of which included each social worker having to make a £42,000 saving on service user care packages they assess this year.”

The Council wants to provide more Telecare at home instead of visits from care workers. This is not a viable option for anyone who would find it difficult to manage Telecare, for example people with dementia, and might not be a safe solution when someone has a crisis, but it would save the Council money.

Barnet Council wants to provide respite for carers in a different way so that the people they care for do not have to go into a residential home. It may be nicer for all concerned if the council arranges for care workers to come to their homes so carers can have a break but everyone is together at home or it could be a very stressful form of respite. The Council could offer a direct payment so people can choose their own support while their carer has a break. This could be good, but only if the direct payment is adequate. However this is a bargain offer for the Council because it will save them money.

People should be supported to go to places in their area instead of going to a day centre. This is already happening. Community Space users, who are not allowed to use their centre on a Friday ,and users of BILS are having activities in alternative venues. Instead of being able to meet in a purpose built day centre they are being sent for walks in the park in the lovely winter weather or a swim in the local pool or to sit in Macdonalds or do activities in a drafty church hall with inadequate toilet facilities and access. Service users are obliged to pay for activities in these alternative venues whereas activities in their day centres may be free of charge. However if day centres can be closed then the Council does not have to pay the running costs and the property can be sold to developers.

No mention is made in the Community Offer of ensuring there is adequate comfortable and appropriate transport to ensure people can get out to their activities, but I suppose transport does not matter if there is nowhere for them to go. They can just sit independently and unsupported at home.

What should we think of this Community Offer? It may be a bargain for the Council, but CADDSS believes it is a disgraceful offer to make to vulnerable Barnet residents in need of social care.

Judge for yourself: Click here for the consultation presentation (presented to focus group 16 January 2014)


Janet Leifer

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