Hundreds of elderly and disabled adults in Cornwall have just received a letter containing news that will change their lives.
The circular from Cornwall Council advises them that their current provider of care at home is not on the list of Approved Providers who the Council will be using in future.
“I was horrified when I heard about it,” says pensioner Barbara Thompson from Helston, who has been receiving adult social care at home since suffering a stroke 13 years ago.
“I’m very happy with the service I get from Proper Care Cornwall, which has been looking after me for the last four years, and I don’t want to change.”
Mrs Thompson explains that recent changes in the local authority’s choice of provider have been very unsettling: “The first organisation was fine but it closed down after a few years. Suddenly a new lot of carers turned up and they really weren’t satisfactory. They lasted about three weeks. The care I receive now is excellent. The staff who visit are friendly and helpful, and so are the people in the office.”
For those who are determined to stick with their chosen care providers, the good news is that there is a way to do so through ‘Personal Budgets’. Under this recent nationwide initiative, people will have their needs assessed and will be allocated a Personal Budget to pay for adult social care. If they or their family choose the option of managing their own Personal Budget they will be able to choose the providers they prefer – whether or not they are on the Council’s list.
Barbara Thompson will certainly be applying to manage her own Personal Budget: “I’ve read a booklet from Age Concern which explains what’s involved. It’s not complicated and it will put me in control of my own care. I want to know how much I have in my budget, and how much each service costs, so I can decide how best to spend it.”
But while the Council is trying to be open and transparent about the changes, it seems that information about Personal Budgets, in particular, is not filtering down to those at the receiving end of adult social care services. Many people are unaware of Personal Budgets or are confused by the whole issue.
According to Mrs Thompson, there has also been no explanation for the Council’s new Approved Providers policy: “The letter tells us that the list of providers is being changed but it doesn’t tell us why. I can’t believe that the people who care for me at the moment are not good enough, so I can only assume that this is about saving money.”
David Carmichael of Helston-based Proper Care Cornwall runs one of the companies that have been excluded from the list, along with around 40 or 50 others: “Our latest inspection report from the Care Quality Commission shows that we meet all of the regulator’s standards, and our clients always seem to be pleased with what we do”.
Mr Carmichael is hoping that many of his clients will opt to manage their own Personal Budgets and he stresses that this will give them the power to demand quality care:
“Quite simply, if customers are not happy with their care provider’s performance they can shop around for someone better. It means that the providers they choose will have to make the effort if they want to keep their business.”
Contact: Mark Nicholson Copywriting