by billhoult on 25 September, 2011
A recent uproar over the Alzheimers Society’s decision to close a day centre in Stokesley raises all sorts of issues in North Yorkshire in regard to the future funding of Social Services. Fortunately the day centre has received emergency funding to stay open until the end of the financial year (April 2012) which is welcome but merely a stop gap measure.
The real problem is that the North Yorkshire County Council has taken the decision not to provide “Core Contracts” for day care and move to what is known as “personal budgets”
Core Contracts have been provided for those residents with an assessed need for day care and voluntary bodies such as the Alzheimers charity were given contracts over say a three year period to provide day care, transport also being financed by the County Council. Under this system the “core” finance was provided for each day care scheme whether or not those assessed as needing it turned up or not. With this system the “core costs” of the service were provided by the contract and the provider also had the option of encouraging others who had sufficient means to pay for the service (self funders) to use day care. In this way the providers were able to cost the service and ensure that it was viable.
With personal funding, which is a Government driven approach each client is provided with an individual “budget” to deal with their assessed needs and has the freedom to purchase different types of care, for instance individual support, drop in centres etc., rather than always going to day care. The problem for the day care providers is that if clients choose not to use the service or use it intermittently they do not receive income for that session; the result being that the service can quickly become loss making due to staffing and accommodation costs.
There are ways and means of encouraging day care provision under personal budgets but it does depend on the provider being guaranteed an income to provide the service (day care in this case) as no one can continue to run at a loss.
I fear that this will mean a decline in day care provision across the County Council (not just restricted to dementia sufferers) but to others who have special needs.
Benefit or Disadvantage?
This is difficult to judge. The claim is that personal budgets give choice to individuals to spend their benefit in the way that serves them best. On the down side if day care is not financially viable it can be seen that one element of choice has been lost.
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