Any efficiency savings made in Fife Council’s home care service will be reinvested – and will not go towards cutting the £77m funding gap.
And Councillor Gavin Yates, executive spokesman for community health and wellbeing, says today’s budget will see additional investment in the service.
He was responding to concerns raised by the Campaign Against Charges and Cuts (CACC), which claimed only those deemed critical or requiring palliative care were receiving the support they needed.
The group also feared further cuts identified in the draft budget would leave the service on the brink of collapse, with Maureen Closs, of CACC, highlighting a recent incident as an example of a system under severe pressure.
She said: “We’ve heard from one of our group during the week that as his carers were on holiday he got no service until after 11.00 a.m., so he was stuck in his house.
“On one of the days he waited until after noon and still no one had called to attend to his personal care. He had to raise his community alarm to report the situation and eventually a carer called at 12.40 p.m.”
Cllr Yates said moves were being made to improve home care services, but he also paid tribute to the staff.
“We have got excellent carers who are committed to doing a very good job,” he said. “It’s up to the management to make sure we organise things to make sure our carers can spend more time looking after service users.”
He highlighted moves to reduce ‘downtime’ – periods during the day when carers have no clients. Currently, around a quarter of carers’ time is ‘non-allocated direct care hours’, equating to around 4500 hours per week. By aligning carers’ hours approximately 200 additional care packages could be provided.
And he pointed out there were moves to have teams of carers responsible for particular patches, rather than having clients spread out across Fife, which should also lead to more people receiving care.
The Council has also recruited 40 new carers, and is looking to introduce a self-assessment system, which should benefit some clients, particularly with moderate needs.
Cllr Yates added: “The policy on assessing needs has not changed. The most critical cases come first, then those with substantial need and then moderate need. We will always prioritise those in greatest need.
“We know it’s important to people that we provide care at a time that suits and on time, that it’s the same faces they see and that they receive a quality service. That’s what we are aiming to provide and we will continue to work to improve the service.”