I wanted in my post today, to give you a little insight into my views on our proposals for residential and day care which I will be taking to the Council’s Executive Board on 4th September.
One of the things I said when taking up the position of Executive Member for Adult Social Care at the end of May, was that I wanted to get out and see services that we deliver across the city, some of the provision we commission as well as other third sector and independent activity. I’ve so far had the privilege of seeing some of our services including learning disability and mental health provision, as well as attending an assessment with one of our social workers with an older person in his home in East Leeds. I have got more visits planned as well as some shadowing of teams, but if there is anything in particular you would like me to come and see or experience, please do get in touch.
Both myself and my deputy, Cllr Ted Hanley, were of the view that we had to go and see for ourselves the eight residential care homes and day centres that were included in the consultation that ran from March to June. I think the first point to make and the thing that strikes you when you do visit, is the great care that our staff give to residents at our homes and to the users of our day centres. There’s no doubt that the residents and relatives we spoke to were of this view too and were not able to praise staff highly enough for the quality of care given. I know that it has and continues to be a worrying time for all staff involved at our homes and day centres, and I would like to thank you for your commitment; remaining professional at all times and putting the needs of our residents and service users first.
Accepting that the quality of care and the commitment from our staff is high. The other thing you do notice is that a number of our homes are now or will be in the near future, in need of significant improvements in terms of the fabric of the buildings. And this brings us to one of our major dilemmas – the lack of money to do such improvements. We all know that the Council has been hit massively by the budget cuts passed down to us by the Government. Between 2011 and 2016 the council’s budget will have been cut by nearly 45%. Only a few weeks ago, the Chancellor announced a 10% cut for 2015/16, which in August became clear would actually be a 15% cut equating to £20 million more than the original £26 million anticipated.
So, as an Administration running the Council, we have been clear in these extremely difficult times to make sure that services for our most vulnerable residents – Adult Social Care and Children’s – get a bigger slice of what is overall a smaller cake. But it does mean that we have to identify those areas that we will focus more resource on over the longer term and those where we will reduce spending. In terms of older people this means over time shifting resources into those services that help people to live safely for longer in their own homes or helps them to get back home more quickly if they have to go into hospital.
On our visits to homes and day centres a number of residents told us in no uncertain terms that they did not want to move. You cannot, if you are a human being, fail to be moved when a resident at one home grasps you hand tightly and pleads with you to allow her to stay living there. Or the group of service users at a day centre imploring us to allow them to move as a friendship group, if the worst happens and we have to close the centre. Believe me, you cannot help but imagine it being your grandmother. So, we are having to make some very difficult decisions on the 4th September but I hope we have demonstrated that we have listened to the hundreds of responses in the consultation. This includes agreeing to keep both Manorfield House & Primrose Hill Homes open for existing residents and similarly at Suffolk Court. It also includes making it clear that friendship groups at those Day Centres which will close will be able to move together to alternative services.
We know that we must redouble our collective efforts across the Council , to attract developers of all kinds for the housing of older people in those parts of the City that we know are underprovided now or are likely to be underprovided in the future. This ensures that not only this generation of older people are supported to live independently for as long as possible in localities with which they are familiar, but also that the next generation have that same opportunity.
I hope this piece is helpful in terms of some of the context to the decisions that we are taking. Once again, thank you for your perseverance throughout the process and for continuing to provide such excellent care for vulnerable people in Leeds who use our services.