13 Mar 2010

Gloucestershire: we must develop preventative services

Well the review of sheltered accommodation rumbles on but at least now the District seem to be listening more and I have hope that we can develop support at our sheltered schemes - anyway here is my letter earlier this week sent to the SNJ:

Photo: telephone lines in Gloucester - yes I know nothing to do with this blog but just liked them!

The SNJ reports on the review of support at the District Council's sheltered accommodation (10/03/10). The review has led to three years of uncertainty for tenants. This is unacceptable; let us hope we can now find a positive way forward. As a local councillor, who also works for a countywide charity providing support to older people with mental health issues, I am concerned about how we are developing services for our increasing numbers of older people.

I certainly welcome the Government's personal care at home bill and it's aim to help around 400,000 people with the highest needs. However I have grave reservations about how this will be implemented. The estimated costs are based on many questionable assumptions and any additional costs will fall on local Councils. The reality is that Councils are already over-stretched.

Furthermore in Gloucestershire some fear that the Supporting People preventative services programme could be cut. This would be a serious mistake, as there is strong evidence that they make a significant contribution to the lives of vulnerable people. Research indicates such services led to a national saving of £3.4 billion on an investment of £1.6 billion as they prevent the use of more expensive services.

In Dorset, for example, substantial sums have been saved by joint working practices that refocus resources from acute care for older people to supporting them at home. Indeed they have reduced hospital admissions by 15%.

In Gloucestershire there is already some good practice, but there is room for improvement. We need to cut bureaucratic burdens, involve service users more and develop ways for services to work better together. Churchill, Gandhi and Truman have all said we can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members. Developing the provision of local preventative services is crucial.

Cllr. Philip Booth,
Stroud District councillor for the Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward

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