Cheshire East Council is significantly increasing spending on adult social care – investing £10.9m in 2018/19. However, the council faces a significant financial challenge – due to reductions in government grants, rising costs and increased demand for care services.
The council’s aim is to boost the quality, capacity, flexibility, choice, impact and value for money of these services – to deliver the right support, in the right place, at the right time.
The cabinet today backed proposals to recommission care at home, residential care and respite care. This is usual local authority practice.
It also voted to carry out a review of respite care provision, with wide stakeholder consultation, to identify ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness and reduce low occupancy of block-booked beds.
There are more than 40,000 residents in Cheshire East who look after or give support to family members, friends or neighbours because of mental health issues, disability or problems due to old age.
The council currently spends £37.4m a year on accommodation with care services within the borough and a further £13m on highly-specialised provision in other local authority areas. Additionally, it spends about £13.5m a year on care at home services plus £13.7m on Supported Living services, where housing and support are provided separately.
Councillor Janet Clowes, cabinet member for adult social care and integration, said: “Carers have told us that they want an alternative respite offer to the bed-based services that are currently available. The council is now carrying out a review and consulting with carers and other stakeholders about how the alternative respite provision should be delivered, in order to more effectively and efficiently provide the right support, in the right place, at the right time.
“So, as part of a review of respite provision, we will look at different models of respite support to ensure greater choice and flexibility for service users – such as short breaks and supported living, home-based services, Shared Lives support and respite in an extra-care housing setting.
“The current offer of respite care was intended to enable carers to access respite in a variety of geographical locations. However, there are issues with low occupancy and, as
the system operates on block provision (where providers get paid a block amount of money even if the beds are not occupied) it means that some beds are going unoccupied. There is, therefore, a need to review the current provision, to ensure it delivers real choice, value for money and the best outcomes for respite care users.
“Subject to consultation, some beds are proposed to be ‘block purchased’ to be available all year round to continue to provide geographical coverage across the borough – together with additional beds purchased as and when necessary to meet demand and in the appropriate location. The new provision would begin in October 2018.”
Care at home
The council is to change the way it commissions care at home (domiciliary care) for our local residents. This service will be for adults with less complex care and support needs residing in Cheshire East.
There is a need to transform the care and support offer to ensure Cheshire has greater capacity and flexibility – and an improved range of services that deliver value for money for our residents. The council is working with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to explore options to jointly commission care and support services delivered to residents in their home.
Cllr Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health, said: “In Cheshire East, we face an ageing population and the borough needs to increase the capacity and capability of care services that enable people to remain living at home longer, reduce the need for a move to a care home and provide timely and appropriate care.
“With our partners, we need to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate high-quality care and that, together, we encourage care services to improve the care and support they deliver.”
Cheshire East is also set to change the way it commissions residential care for people who receive financial support for their care from the authority. Under the new proposals, providers of residential homes will be asked to sign up to a ‘framework’, which will ensure they deliver the highest possible quality, care and support.
Residents who receive financial support for their care will be placed in care homes that meet the quality standards required by the authority. Residents who are already placed in care homes will not be expected to move.
The council is working with South Cheshire and Eastern Cheshire CCGs to ensure the seamless provision of care and support during the transition to new provision which will take place in 2018.
Cheshire East Council has a duty under the Care Act 2014 to promote the efficient and effective operation and sustainability of the care market for the borough.