Councillor Ogilvie, executive member for Adult Social Care, talks here about the concerns we all have about making provision for the future as we get older.
I recently went to visit my Dad and Stepmother in Scotland for a few days having not been able to spend any time with them since before Christmas. Taking a bit of time out like this certainly gives you chance to reflect on life, the universe etc. Not least it makes you reflect on the importance of family and making more time to see the ones closest to you.
As your parents get older you inevitably start to think about the future and what that might hold. Whilst I was with my Dad, we talked a bit, probably for the first time, about what he and my Stepmother would like in terms of care and support should they need it in the years ahead. It was a great break but conversations like that certainly unsettle you a bit. However, they are conversations we should probably have more of, if we are honest.
I’m sure it’s something that most of us can relate to as we all have relatives or friends who have or will have caring needs that we will be involved with down the line. I was thinking on the way back from Scotland would I really know where to start in terms of looking at all the options and finding out what is available. I probably have more knowledge than some, thanks to the position I hold, about where to start looking. But for many people, I guess, negotiating your way through all the health and social care options is still a bit like walking through a maze – something we need to do more on.
There’s certainly a lot going on in Leeds and lots of help available, from our assessment services, reablement, or our integrated health and social care teams. And the great work of our renowned neighbourhood networks and facilities such as the South Leeds Independence Centre. I’m slowly getting around to see some of this really invaluable work and I must take the opportunity to say thank you to everyone for the work that you all do. Not least at a time when caring for our most vulnerable is nearly every day in the news.
Like this week with Age UK raising the alarm over the cuts to social care funding in its’ Care in Crisis 2014 report and the resulting pressure on Council’s to restrict social care to the most needy. Or here in Leeds, the Yorkshire Evening Post headlining a case of an elderly lady and what appears to be a level of homecare service from a private homecare provider which is way below what we would want for our own mums.
Which is why I was pleased to appear in front of the Council’s Health & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee the other day as part of their inquiry into how the council should commission homecare services in the future. And why I am chairing a cross party Homecare Strategic Advisory Group, with providers, service users and trade union representatives. This Group is looking at all the tricky issues such as the much talked about 15 minutes, travel time, minimum versus living wage etc as we explore and then devise a framework the council will then use to commission homecare.
Going back to the conversation with my Dad about his possible care needs in the future, I think what we all want for our relatives is reassurance that good quality provision is available. As we do less direct provision ourselves as a Council the challenge is how we are able to exert our influence to drive up and champion quality across all homecare provision in the city.