Report Highlights Plight Of Carers

A damning report has highlighted the plight of families faced with caring for loved ones in Harrow, while the council makes swingeing cuts to social care services. Since last May, the new Conservative administration has racked up home care charges by raising the weekly cap to £250 per week and charging residents a maximum of £15 an hour for care.

They have also merged Anmer Lodge and Milman’s Day Care Centre, and are currently proposing to start charging the elderly £12 per day or £6 per half day if they attend day care centres in the borough.

The council is also planning to introduce charges for hot meals at day care centres following the Meals on Wheels consultation and reducing the level of care they provide to critical only.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) report found that as local councils support fewer people, informal carers have to fill the gaps, with inadequate support structures to help them and many people struggle to find the services they need.

The effect of this strain can seriously damage people’s emotional well being and long-term health.

Dame Denise Platt, chairman of CSCI, said: “As councils face an increase in the number of older and disabled people and in the costs of care, many have responded by raising the threshold people have to pass before they are entitled to a council-funded service.

“As a result, irrespective of the quality of social care services, fewer people are receiving services.”

But Cllr Eric Silver, portfolio holder for Adult Community Care Services and Issues Facing People with Special Needs in Harrow, said: “We get one of the worst settlements from Westminster of any borough in London, and if you have a certain pot of money then you have to spend it in a certain way. We are trying to stabilise our financial position, but it is impossible to turn it around in six months to a year.”

Dame Platt also added that those who do receive care from local authorities now have a high level of care and that the number of elderly people who would need care would increase by 53 per cent over the next 20 years.

The inspectorate also found that Primary Care Trusts which jointly provide social care services with Harrow are struggling to meet the pressure to balance their books placed on them by senior management in the NHS and that this was making it difficult for local authorities to provide care.