New adult social care model for West Sussex ‘innovation sites’

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A new model for adult social care could be rolled out at seven innovation sites as the quality regulator warned the industry was ‘approaching tipping point’ nationally.

West Sussex County Council plans to trial a community-based operating model, which aims to enable people to stay independent for longer and avoid stays in hospital or care homes.

This new approach could be launched in seven areas in January 2017 where those requiring care can have conversations about their needs at an early stage.

Adur, Chichester, Crawley, and East Grinstead are the areas where ‘innovation sites’ are being considered.

This comes as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised concerns that the sustainability of the adult social care market is approaching a tipping point in its annual State of Care report released today (Thursday October 13).

Avril Wilson, WSCC’s executive director for care, wellbeing and education, said: “We want to work with local people, their families and carers to make sure they get the right care at the right time.

“It’s about helping people before they need more traditional types of services, meeting them more informally to help them stay healthy and in control of their lives.

“This isn’t replacing any of those traditional services. We will still be there for people when they need us. But we hope that an emphasis on preventative services and early contact with people will increase independence and address care needs before they escalate.

“We know similar models have worked well in other parts of the country and we’re keen to see a move in the same direction here in West Sussex.”

Linking up with local groups and the voluntary sector and helping people to access existing services will be important aspects of the new way of working.

The new approach was backed by the county council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) when it met at the end of September.

Bryan Turner, chairman of HASC, said: “It was important for the committee to hear more about these plans which we know will involve many people in our local communities.

“The committee welcomed the direction that is being proposed and made a number of suggestions which we hope will make this way of working even more beneficial for residents.”

During the meeting the committee asked:

• That work continues with partners to focus on provision for older residents and end of life care

• That further consideration be given to the location of innovation sites

• That the use of technology be encouraged

• That a small number of representatives from the committee liaise with officers on an ongoing basis to monitor the development of the project

• That the vision is formed and shared before it is subject to a final decision in Autumn 2017

Information from the innovation sites will be used to draw up proposals for a county-wide service which will be the subject of a consultation during summer 2017.

A decision on whether to roll out the new model will then be made by the Cabinet Member in autumn 2017.

If the county-wide scheme is introduced it is hoped it would be up and running by January 2018.

Nationally, CQC data showed that a five-year period of increased nursing home beds from 2009 to March 2015 has now stalled, with numbers remaining static.

Already ut has seen examples of providers starting to hand back contracts as being undeliverable, with local authorities warning of more to come.

This is due to pressures on fees that funders of care are able or willing to pay, and cost pressures that include the impact of the National Living Wage introduced in April 2016.

In 2015, Age UK estimated that more than a million elderly residents in England were living with unmet social care needs, such as not receiving assistance with bathing and dressing, a rise from 800,000 in 2010.

The number of elderly residents receiving local authority-funded social care fell 26 per cent from more than 1.1 million in 2009 to around 850,000 in 2013/14.

And according to the CQC, the fragility of the adult social care market is now beginning to impact both the people who rely on these services and on the performance of NHS care.

The combination of a growing and ageing population, more people with long-term conditions, and a challenging economic climate means greater demand on services and more problems for people in accessing care.

This is translating to increased A&E attendances, emergency admissions and delays to people leaving hospital, which in turn is affecting the ability of a growing number of trusts to meet their performance and financial targets.

WSCC’s Performance and Finance Select Committee discussed the impact of the introduction of the National Living Wage, which guaranteeing at least £7.20 an hour for those aged 25 and over, at its latest meeting.

Peter Catchpole, WSCC’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “It gave us an opportunity to reflect on the excellent work that carers do and perhaps their status and pay rates were not want we would hope for.”

He explained that a lot of work had gone on with the care operators around understanding how sustainable their services were.

A total of £30.7m has been included in WSCC’s medium term financial strategy to cover the impact of the NLW over a five-year period on the council’s suppliers and its own staff.

Officers told the committee that West Sussex had a ‘relatively stable market place at the moment’.

But Steve Waight (Con, Goring) said he had heard anecdotally that many care homes were ‘tottering on the boundary of being viable’.

Officers said that while they had lost around 160 beds since the start of the financial year, there were planning applications in the pipeline for around 800 beds.

Officers added: “From a commissioning point of view there is a sufficient and stable supply for the needs of our population.”

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