‘No Cuts’ in home support for elderly in Suffolk

FRAIL elderly people in Suffolk will be helped to live in their own homes for as long as possible.

That is the pledge from Colin Noble, the councillor responsible for adult services at Suffolk County Council, as fears grew that government spending cuts could hit home-based services.

Mr Noble insisted it was cheaper to help people remain in their own homes than it was to withdraw support and see them deteriorate to such a degree that they were considered in 'critical need' and had to be admitted to a care home.

Not only did it make financial sense, he said, it was also what the vast majority of people wanted.

'We are looking to ensure that the care people are offered ensures that they do not deteriorate any further,' he said. 'That can vary from having telephonic links, things like electronic warning pagers, to some home care.

'We want to ensure that those who need minimum help get it to prevent them from needing 'substantial' help and those who get 'substantial' help don't become 'critical' cases.'

Mr Noble was speaking after two national reports raised concerns about the amount of home help councils would be able to provide after last month's spending cuts were announced by Chancellor George Osborne.

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A report from the Local Government Association raised fears that some councils might only be able to help patients facing 'critical' needs in care homes – and have no money for other care homes.

Another report published this week found 86 out of 87 councils were currently investing in services to help people live independently for longer.

But 46 out of 87 were concerned about funding these intervention services in the future.

Mr Noble said changes to government regulations should make it easier to target money where it was needed – and to make it easier to give those needing support the financial help they needed.

He said: 'Under the last Government the bureaucracy required was daunting and very costly. It meant it was very difficult to target money where it was needed.'

For one programme the council was forced to spend �1 on bureaucracy for every �1 it was able to give in support.

Mr Noble said the new Government was sweeping away many of the regulations which should make it easier to target support at those who needed it.

This meant the number of people supported by the county with personal budgets should increase from 25 per cent to 40 per cent by next March.

Paul Burstow, minister for care services, said extra money promised by the Chancellor last month would mean no council had to cut social care services.

He said: 'We are investing in reablement services that get people back on their feet after a stay in hospital.

'By using telecare and developing preventative services, councils can cut their costs, reduce pressure on the NHS and improve the quality of life of their residents.'

•Colin Noble is due tis meeting members of Suffolk Carers on Wednesday to tell them about the county's new strategic direction and hear their hopes and fears for the future.

He said: 'Family carers have an absolutely vital role in the life of Suffolk. Out of a total population of 700,000 there are an estimated 98,000 people who care for a member of their family to some extent.

'I am very keen to hear from them and to be able to answer questions they may have about the future of services in the county.'