Promise Of Better Social Care In Norfolk

Older people and the vulnerable are being promised better social care and shorter waiting times following a raft of changes which will overhaul the way assessments are carried out and save £1.2m.

Norfolk County Council’s ruling cabinet will today discuss the plans for more integration with the NHS and ways to speed up how basic assessments are carried out.

A report will suggest that a new system should make use of the council’s customer service centre as the first point of call.

Waiting times for occupational therapy services and carers in particular are seen as too long and the proposals will look at trebling the numbers of staff to 91 working in a new enhanced access service, linked to the customer service centre which, will provide advice and information and deal with non-complex simpler services.

The changes are part of a shift which will see a greater reliance on self-assessments and more personalised budgets – where users are able to purchase their own care.

More complex cases will be referred to adult community teams, while teams dealing with learning difficulties and care management will be merged.

But 335 out of 617 staff will be affected and 38 posts lost – though the councils said this will be done through redeployment and natural wastage.

Harold Bodmer, director of Adult Social Services, said: “We are re-structuring the way we deliver our assessment and care management to help deliver a faster, more efficient service to the public and to give people greater choice and control over the care they receive through personal budgets.

“We’ve looked at how we can simplify access to information and improve our response to the public ensuring that we can meet a whole range of needs as effectively as possible.

“To achieve this, we need to change our current staff mix and move more of our staff to the ‘front door’ of our service to deal with simpler enquiries, assessments and care needs, leaving specialist practitioners to work with people who have more complex, higher needs,” he added.

“By re-shaping our service in this way, we will not only be able to offer a faster, simpler service to more people, we are also looking to achieve efficiencies of £1.2m. This will help us to invest in other priority services such as prevention, helping people remain independent in their own homes wherever possible.”

Alison Birmingham, Unison senior steward for social services, said it was important staff gave their views on the changes.

“Staff do have some concerns that it is not the right model, but they will have an opportunity to put those to management or Unison,” she said.