The Highland Council is to modernise community care services, in association with partners in NHS Highland and the independent sector, to meet the increasing demands of an ageing population, and growing numbers of people with complex needs.
It is to transform a number of dedicated community care activities, including the ongoing development of care at home services, a review of community- based supports and day care across the authority, and the implementation of adult support and protection measures. The measures also include proposals to speed up assessment and decision making, to ensure that services can be accessed more quickly across both the Council and NHS Highland.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, welcomed the unanimous support of committee members for accepting the need to modernise services.
She said: “Simply carrying on in the same way is not an option. We will have more older people. We will also have growing numbers with disability and other needs. We need to do things differently. We need to change the nature of services, so that there is a broader range of support, that that we are able to respond more quickly to provide the right help at the right time. We also need more services that support people to do things for themselves, and to continue to live in their own homes for longer, rather than to become dependent on continuing care.”
Councillor Davidson explained this was not about making cash savings, but about spending the budget more wisely, targeting support on where it made the most difference for people, and reducing bureaucracy.
She added: “We know that people want to live at home for as long as possible. We know that families and communities appreciate support, but they don’t always want the caring agencies to take over. We need to build local services that better enable families and communities to perform these roles, and that also enable service users to develop or maintain their social and personal skills. We also need services that are more intensive, be they community based, or linked to day care and residential care, that provide specialist help for people with more complex needs.”
Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work, said: “In communities across the Highlands, and working closely with our partners in other agencies, we need to plan for services that meet the demands we will face in the future years. That means shifting the balance of care to support earlier and community-based support, assisting people to regain and maximise their health and independence, and making sure that people who use services experience a seamless and joined up process for meeting their personal, physical or mental health needs. It also means taking away all needless bureaucracy that delays service delivery. We can achieve that through better and quicker assessments, and through more efficient management systems.
“The detail of the services that we will deliver will be set out in our Joint Community Care Plan with NHS Highland. From today, we will begin a process of consultation about that Plan, where we will talk with services users and their families, and with our partner agencies, about our intentions for the future.”
The Housing & Social Work Committee welcomed and agreed the change programme. It endorsed the streamlining of management in care at home, the investment in more front line services, and the creation of a shared ‘hub’ with NHS Highland to achieve better call handling for telecare and emergency services. It also included a review of day care, to better support local social care activities, as well as more specialist care for people with complex needs.