Richmond Council’s Cabinet is being advised to proceed with proposals for a borough centre of excellence for older people with dementia at Ham, and to phase out use of Tangley Hall between now and September.
The next eight months will be used to improve the facilities at Ham, ensuring continuity of provision for Tangley Hall users, and to make transport arrangements which satisfy the older people concerned. They and their families will have the choice of using Ham or having alternative support arranged if they wish.
The recommendation is contained in a service review, which also proposes no rise in day care fees for two years. It further suggests the Twickenham day care centre should be phased out between now and April. Its current users would be given the choice of support at Sheen Lane or other options.
Cllr Nicola Urquhart, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing, said: “Without doubt, this has been an incredibly difficult plan of action to suggest, but it is necessary to sustain the long term future of services for the most vulnerable residents we look after.
“We have listened to the reasons residents gave in the consultation and are responding to every one: the option of a taxi will be provided for people at Tangley Hall if the bus journey to Ham appears likely to lead to a significant increase in current journey times. There will be continuity of provision, and resources will be spent on the garden and building at Ham to ensure it genuinely is a centre of excellence.
“I believe the proposals put forward for improving Ham and Sheen and eventually closing Tangley Hall and Twickenham are right and in the interests of all our older people. We have consistently said the Council would focus on critical services on which local people rely, but that they may be delivered differently to take into account the financial pressures which we, like all local authorities are facing.
“I am absolutely aware that this would be unnerving for the older people, and their families, but I would like to assure people that our staff will work with users to support them through this change, and are also always at the end of the phone to answer questions. We will create at Ham, an improved service where people genuinely enjoy spending time and where much more help and advice is available.”
During the last three years, across the borough’s four daycare centres there has been a 10 per cent drop in occupancy since 2007. The changes will allow the Council to refocus the Ham centre to provide specialist services for those with dementia and the Sheen Lane centre specialist services for those who are physically frail.
Other recommendations in the report include:
Contributions to personal care: Currently, users assessed as being as able to do so, contribute towards their care costs up to a maximum of £320 per week. If the report is approved, this cap would be removed for new users but maintained for existing users, with a review in a year’s time. The Council would also take into account disability related benefits which individuals receive when assessing people’s ability to pay, for new and existing users.
The Council’s research indicates every other local authority in the country already does this and the change would bring Richmond in line with national practices. The Council would introduce a £20 disregard for disabled users and would also set up an appeals system.
Eligibility for social care: The Council currently provides support to people with moderate, substantial and critical needs, one of only five London boroughs to do so. However, demand has risen by 28 per cent in four years, and the Council can no longer afford this. It is recommended that from 1 April new users with substantial or critical needs only should be supported, but for those currently assessed as having moderate needs there will be no change.'
Considerable help will still be available for people subsequently assessed as having moderate needs and the council will signpost and help people access this support.
By 31 March a report will be published to explain which services are available to those with moderate needs, how they are accessed and whether they are free or paid for. These changes are proposed to take place from 1 April, and including the savings made through closing two day centres, the Council will reduce its costs by £1,065,000 per year.
Cllr Geoffrey Samuel, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, added: “The economic constraint the entire public sector is now faced with, dictates that we cannot go on as we were. Standing still is simply not an option - the Council must save around £35million to deal with extra demand for our services and cuts in support from Government.
“Change must happen, but we have listened very carefully, and a number of suggestions from the consultation on adult care are in the report. What people have said will focus us on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in a way that makes a difference to how they live. I have said before that we will deliver services to the same or better standards, but there are no guarantees they will be provided in exactly the same way or in the same place.”