Care scheme ends

The Oban Times - - FRONT PAGE - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

THE lo­cal health author­ity is be­ing partly blamed for Argyll’s ‘suc­cess­ful’ pi­o­neer home care scheme com­ing to an end.

THE lo­cal health author­ity is be­ing partly blamed for Argyll’s ‘suc­cess­ful’ pi­o­neer home care scheme com­ing to an end.

Ap­pin and Lis­more Com­mu­nity Care Scheme was ‘po­ten­tially a very good so­lu­tion’ to the prob­lems of home care in Argyll’s re­mote area, Dr Iain McNi­col, the chair­man of Ap­pin Com­mu­nity Trust, said, ‘and it was de­vel­op­ing nicely, but it was not given time to de­velop’.

Lis­more Com­mu­nity Coun­cil ex­plained in its Septem­ber draft min­utes: ‘The original plan was for the grant from Argyll and Bute Coun­cil to last one year, after which Ap­pin and Lis­more Home­care (A&LH) would be able to fund it­self. It ap­pears the group is not able to do this. It seems not enough peo­ple took up the of­fer of hav­ing their care pro­vided by A&LH to cover the over­head costs.

‘With­out more fund­ing the co-or­di­na­tor’s con­tract will lapse and, it is be­lieved, A&LH will cease to be able to pro­vide the ser­vice. Mem­bers of A&LH felt strongly con­tin­ued fund­ing to ex­tend the co-or­di­na­tor’s con­tract was de­sir­able. No­body present had fig­ures show­ing how close A&LH is to meet­ing its ob­jec­tive of cov­er­ing its costs.’

The Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship (HSCP) de­cided not to fund the co-or­di­na­tor El­iz­a­beth Bruce’s post be­yond Oc­to­ber 15 due to the scheme be­ing ‘un­able to at­tract suf­fi­cient res­i­dents’ and ‘is­sues in re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing staff’.

HSCP dis­closed three res­i­dents in Lis­more and two in Ap­pin had sub­scribed to the scheme, but it re­fused to say how many res­i­dents were suf­fi­cient to re­tain the co-or­di­na­tor’s post, or how close the scheme came to that cut-off point.

An HSCP spokesman said: ‘Lo­cal res­i­dents have the le­gal right to choose their own care provider. The pro­ject, work­ing with High­land Home­care, is con­tin­u­ing with­out the role of the co-or­di­na­tor. We have com­mis­sioned care from one of our in­de­pen­dent part­ner providers to en­sure all care is de­liv­ered un­til an agree­able so­lu­tion is found.’

A dis­ap­pointed and frus­trated Dr McNi­col said: ‘If the peo­ple who got the pri­vate care moved over [to the com­mu­nity scheme], it would have had the right num­bers. It is com­ing to an end and we are meta­mor­phos­ing into some­thing dif­fer­ent. By most pa­ram­e­ters the scheme was suc­cess­ful.’

As tasked, the scheme trained 12 car­ers – four on Lis­more and eight in Ap­pin – and then de­vised an ef­fi­cient sys­tem to or­gan­ise them.

Dr McNi­col ex­plained that it would have been sim­ple for the ‘very ex­pe­ri­enced’ co-or­di­na­tor El­iz­a­beth Bruce to do the as­sess­ments, but in­stead the HSCP in­sisted they con­duct their own ‘cum­ber­some’ as­sess­ments, which ‘cre­ated time de­lays of three to four months per pa­tient’.

With no work im­mi­nent dur­ing that pe­riod, four trained car­ers, who were look­ing for full-time work, left for other jobs.

Dr McNi­col added: ‘We did not get the chance to build up the num­bers as quickly as we would have hoped. It be­came chicken and egg.’

The HSCP the ‘sud­denly pro­duced a re­quest for 56 hours for one client a week, and we could not do that. [Ms Bruce] said she could not re­spon­si­bly take that on with that short no­tice,’ said Dr McNi­col. ‘The car­ers have formed a com­mu­nity in­ter­est com­pany and they have ap­plied for reg­is­tra­tion with the Care Com­mis­sion. That will take six months. Then Argyll and Bute will as­sess if it is fit for them to fund it. That will take an­other two months.’

This means peo­ple will find get­ting care dif­fi­cult for the next eight months, he said, un­less they can af­ford it.

‘They were just de­fend­ing bud­gets,’ Dr McNi­col said. ‘It costs money to or­gan­ise a good, safe scheme. We are not tack­ling so­cial care prop­erly in the UK. We seem to think we can do it on the cheap. Some 35 per cent of the Ap­pin pop­u­la­tion are over 65. This is not going to get eas­ier.’

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