Home Care Package Replaced Withdrawn After 13 Years

A disabled man is angry after Kirklees Council said it was ending his home care service. Wheelchair-bound Colin Tucker, 63, from Longwood Edge, Longwood, received a letter from Kirklees Social Services on October 5 telling him 13 years of home care was to end. Mr Tucker lost a leg many years ago and has arthritis in major joints. His condition forced him to retire 13 years ago from his job as manager of a vehicle hire company.

The council’s home care service does Mr Tucker’s weekly food and household goods shopping. It also changes his linen, cleans his house and irons his clothes – tasks which he finds very difficult.

The decision to stop his home help as of next Sunday is the result of Government guidelines set out this year which are expected to affect around 200 people in Kirklees.

Only people who are judged to have critical or substantial needs will now get care from Kirklees social services. Anyone falling outside these categories will have to get help from voluntary or private care agencies.

Mr Tucker said: “I’m angry. It’s ludicrous, after 13 years, to terminate at a few weeks’ notice. They haven’t really provided any alternative, other than a leaflet. I’m left in the lurch. I’m having to think about alternatives. “

Mr Tucker added: “Changing the bed linen and ironing are particularly difficult tasks for me. Cleaning is less so, but nevertheless navigating the house in a wheelchair and simultaneously hauling and using a vacuum cleaner is time-consuming and very exacting. Stopping my home care will have a great effect. For those who are older and much frailer than me it may be health-threatening.

“This savage reduction in home care services is undoubtedly a very carefully crafted move by the director and senior management of Kirklees Social Services to substantially reduce that organisation’s work and its operating costs. It is purely and simply a cost-saving exercise, done without any regard for the feelings of the large numbers of people – many of whom will be elderly and frail and, perhaps, confused – who are now being arbitrarily deprived of much-needed essential services.”

A social services spokesperson said: “The Government has issued a Fair Access to Care framework which identifies four bandings of levels of need. Each council is required to identify which bandings it deems to be eligible for social care support. Kirklees revised its level of eligibility from the previous four bandings to the current two, critical and substantial. This change is entirely consistent with the Government’s recent White Paper, entitled Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.”

The paper’s sub-title is ‘A new direction for community services to promote the development of preventative provision and community-based alternatives’.

The spokesperson added: “Anyone whose assessed needs fall outside the eligibility criteria is directed at alternative provision. This was done in Mr Tucker’s case. It has been estimated that as a result of these changes Kirklees is supporting about 200 fewer packages of home care across its area. Significant investment in alternative community capacity continues through initiatives funded through Neighbourhood Renewal and others.”