Bus concerns for care users

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COUNCILLORS have backed a new adult care strategy – but warned that transport problems could prevent people accessing services.

Hartlepool Borough Council has been looking at the way it will deliver adult social care over the next three years, a period that will see the authority lose £15m from its budget.

The cabinet committee endorsed a new strategy, but highlighted that bus cuts could prevent people getting to activities and services.

A council report said that in 2010 the council supported 5,478 people to live independently through social care services.

Labour councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services, said that about £25m of the council’s budget was spent on funding services.

But the reduction in bus services is cited as a problem for people who use care services to get out and about.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson said: “There are a lot of positives.

“But demographic changes are worrying with more people living longer.”

Coun Thompson said recent cuts meant some people were unable to access services or activities.

Coun Hall said: “Individual budgets give people more choice, but if they do not have the transport to get to the activities they want then that is an issue worth highlighting.”

Councillors officially endorsed the strategy, Moving Forward Together – The Vision for Adult Social Care in Hartlepool 2011-2014.

The strategy, which has been through consultation, promotes a partnership approach in delivering good quality care.

It aims to:

● Provide a quality advice, information and support service;

● Ensure people are offered choice, control and safe/timely/accessible service that empower them to recover as quickly as possible or boost their quality of life and manage their long-term conditions effectively;

● Increase the number of people who have a personal budget;

● Work more closely with neighbouring local authorities and health partners and share resources.

Cabinet members, who thanked staff for their hard work, said funding future pressures in adult social care was a constant challenge.

Coun Hall said: “This is a very positive document as there is a lot in there that we are already achieving as a council.”

He added that a key aspect was the personalisation agenda with people having their own personal budgets for their care needs.

Coun Hall said: “We are looking far more at a diversity of services with people paying for their own services that suit them.

“That is better for the people concerned and better for the public purse.”

Labour councillor Chris Simmons said: “I welcome this strategy.

“Hartlepool has led the way with adult social care and that started three or four years ago with personal budgets.”

Mayor Stuart Drummond said it was important that the council was able to adopt to national changes in this area.