In Leeds we are committed to making that sure care users and their loved ones can be confident their care is both sustainable and high quality.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council executive member for health, wellbeing and adults highlights how Leeds is seeking to ensure this.
We know government funding cuts have made care provision difficult for councils and private providers in many areas of the country as demand rises and council and NHS resources face more pressure.
In Leeds we had already invested increased funding to social care from within the council’s limited budget to support improved homecare. The recently announced extra funds from central government are, of course, welcome. However, this extra money will not make up for the extra costs from demographic changes, increased costs and previous funding reductions.
In Leeds we have been tackling the pressures we face, not just by providing extra funding, but by working closely with the homecare sector and with those who use homecare. Because of this we have not seen the scale of problems some other areas have. This is a tribute to the staff and organisations involved and their commitment to find effective ways to meet the challenges we face and to deliver the level of care we would all want for ourselves and our loved ones.
I was pleased when we were shortlisted for a national award for our commissioning of homecare, as this is recognition of the way we work in Leeds. The council is keen to find new, more effective ways to deliver the services people need and want. One innovation in the city is the Ideas That Change Lives (ITCL) fund. ITCL, funded by Leeds City Council Adult Social Care, working with Leeds Community Foundation, offers business support and financial investment to encourage organisations and individuals to develop socially enterprising ideas to enable Leeds residents with care and support needs to remain independent. The fund has helped many social enterprises to set up in the city, including employee-owned ones. Types of activity ITCL has backed include alternatives to traditional day care and support services; brokerage; health and wellbeing promotional activities and employment related opportunities. This has included the setting up of not-for-profit homecare services.
We have great examples, such as Angels, in South Leeds. They started as three women who originally provided domestic services and support for older people and expanded their services to include home care.
Staff-owned mutual CASA used their ITCL grant to explore and develop a employee-owned social enterprise homecare agency in South Leeds. This has now developed enormously and CASA are now the prime provider of homecare for the council in South Leeds with a multi-million pound contract.
Another beneficiary was Rani Care. Specialising in providing homecare to the South Asian community, they used their grant to test if there was demand for a more specialist service. They now provide support to a range of care self-funders and direct payment users in Leeds.
All these services have been rated as good by the CQC.
Of course we are not complacent and we know that these are challenging times which require ever more innovative thinking. We also have contracts with major local and national providers of homecare to ensure there is adequate provision across the city for when individuals need care. We will continue to monitor all care provision closely, as we understand the concerns about the quality of care and the impact if any care provider decides to close. In Leeds, we are fortunate that our scale of commissioning and monitoring, the good range of providers and the close working developed by commissioners with homecare services means we are well placed to cope with any problems that might crop up locally. As well as this, we can see best practice used across the city and new ways of delivering services which are showing real success in Leeds, as Leeds City Council works with not just traditional homecare services but also community and worker run care firms.
These are difficult days for local authorities providing care, but working in a Leeds way has helped us develop a strong basis for delivery to work for service users and providers in the years to come.