Care scheme to be extended

Councillor Pam Hargreaves
Councillor Pam Hargreaves

A COMMUNITY scheme that aims to help people live more independently is to be rolled out – to the joy of scores of residents.

Around 100 members of the public cheered and clapped as Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet agreed to award a £680,0000 contract to spread a care scheme across the town.

The Connected Care model, which was first launched in the Owton area of Hartlepool three years ago, uses navigators as a first point of contact for residents with health and social care problems.

The service aims to keep people out of hospital, or if they have just left, to keep them at home.

The public gallery at the town’s Council Chamber, in the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, was packed as people were keen to hear good news after the roll-out was delayed for five months as the process was scrutinised.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “I think we can look forward to something we can be proud of. It was set up in Hartlepool and has national acclaim.

“You can see by the turnout that it does affect people’s lives.

“It won’t be long before other towns are knocking on our door about it.”

Questions had been raised in scrutiny about community interest company Who Cares (NE) getting such a big pot of cash. But Councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services, was quick to point out that all the right processes had been followed.

Coun Hall, who has been heavily involved with the project, said: “Various concerns were raised about the awarding of the contract. We took legal advice from a barrister and they confirmed there were no issues whatsoever in the development of the process in rewarding the contract.”

He added: “We are in great financial difficulties in this town and in this council. I praise my colleagues for raising points of concern, but I think they have been addressed and answered.

“That shows we are going to look at things in the coming year and be very careful about the budget and policies.”

Councillor Pam Hargreaves said: “What we were simply questioning is whether one organisation should be given such a big chunk of money without an open process, no matter of they were in the public or private sector.”

Details of where the services will be based are yet to be confirmed. But an investigation by councillors has recommended a strategy be devised to identify the areas that would most benefit.

Other services offered by Connected Care include a magazine which goes to every home in the ward, a handy person repair service, out reach sessions and a benefits and welfare advice service.

There is also a partnership with the Accent Foundation Trust to refurbish flats and support vulnerable young people with their tenancies and a Supported Access to Independent Living Service (SAILS) which supports vulnerable older people.

Connected Care, which is embedded in Manor Residents’ Association, in Kilmarnock Road, is a partnership between residents, ward councillors and community associations.

The service is funded by the council, primary care trust and other sources drawn in by Who Cares (NE).