Cabinet member Dave Shields writes:
Local readers will be very aware of the crisis facing Council-funded adult social care services. This is a result of continued government cutbacks in Council grants which look set to continue for the foreseeable future. We have to face this challenge and work to overcome it.
This means uncomfortable and unpopular decisions have sometimes to be taken - as with the future of Council-run care facilities such as Brownhill House. It is important, however, for the public to be fully informed about our proposed changes.
The Council currently manages a number of ‘reablement’ beds at Brownhill House which are wholly funded by the NHS. We are concerned that this excellent facility duplicates similar services provided by Solent Health NHS Trust and it makes sense to join them together under a single management structure. The NHS-funded beds at Brownhill House are not always fully utilised (with occupancy levels sometimes falling below 50%) and there are similar issues of under-occupancy at the RSH Brambles and Fanshawe wards. We believe that by combining these services and providing more out-of-hospital care in people's own homes we can relieve pressure on our local hospitals whilst saving almost £1 million a year. The savings mean that we can meet the increasing demand on services resulting from a 20% rise in the City's elderly population when money from central government is being cut back.
These proposals have been developed over the past year and extensive consultation has taken place with service users, residents and other key stakeholders in the NHS and voluntary sector. The vast majority of the 200 people who responded to the Council’s consultation agree with our shared vision for an integrated service. Local GPs and the medical and nursing staff at the RSH, Southampton General Hospitals and in the community are also fully behind the plans, which will be discussed at the Council’s Cabinet meeting later this month.
I can reassure readers that users of social services who are assessed as having a need for rehabilitation, reablement, respite care, home care or day care will continue to receive a high quality service, albeit provided differently than at present.