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Council 'failing' elderly with lack of in-house care

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

By Paul Lewis

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HOME care workers claim elderly residents are being let down because so many of them unable to secure council-run care.

Neath Port Talbot Council's in-house service has been struggling to compete cost-wise with the private sector.

As a result there has been a dramatic fall in the number of elderly, sick or disabled people it cares for — and it's likely to fall again to its lowest level yet.

A delegation of around 20 council-employed home care assistants attended a Glynneath Town Council meeting to voice their concerns and to seek the authority's support.

They explained that, 10 years ago, Neath Port Talbot Council's in-house service provided 70 per cent of care. Now it provides between 47 and 54 per cent but under the council's spending plans for the next five years, it would be cut to 30 per cent.

One worker, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said: "If you're not aware of how the system works, it's a very anxious and distressing time.

"They see care assistants out there in uniforms. They trust them. Families ask for the in-house service but time and time again they are being refused it.

"The reason they are given is that there is no capacity in the in-house care service, which is not the case. What is the case is there isn't the budget, because it has been reduced."

She added: "I do feel very strongly that we are failing our elderly residents. They are not being given a choice as to what care provider they can have coming into their homes."

Home care assistants, she said, recognised there were budget restrictions and, despite all efforts to make it more competitive, the in-house service was still more expensive than the private sector.

"But there is never any value of the quality of the care going in," she said. "I'm not saying cost isn't an issue but surely we should be looking at the quality of care."

Resident Calvin Wellstead said it had been a breakthrough when his mother accepted she needed home care.

"We asked for help but we were palmed off and told the in-house service was not available," he said.

"We found out it was available and they were just denying her the health care she needed.

"My mother said she wouldn't have any care if she couldn't have in-house care. They (the council staff) do a fantastic job, especially what they have done for my mother."

A council spokesman said: "The consultation and engagement process for the forward financial plan is currently ongoing.

"Members will make decisions in due course on the whole package of measures considered and as such it is too early to comment on the individual aspects within the plan."

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