Cumbria council bids to ditch therapy red tape for disabled and elderly

The way small household aids such as bathroom handrails are supplied to the elderly and disabled adults is set to change.

Cumbria County Council today launches its consultation on plans to change its current system, which it says is too bureaucratic and cumbersome, with a public meeting in Whitehaven.

Five other meetings will also take place before the consultation closes in February.

The council wants to make the occupational therapy system more accessible to the general public rather that it being seen as a specialist service.

Currently small items to help people in their own homes such as handrails for the bathroom, raised toilet seats and bath seats – which all cost under £30 and account for 70 per cent of requests – are supplied through a time-consuming process of assessment and delivery.

The council is proposing to develop help in the retail sector and with voluntary organisations to ensure that the items are much more accessible to the public.

The local authority says the introduction of ‘Fair Access to Care’ will allow it to concentrate its efforts on those people with more complex needs.

It says waiting times will be cut for those awaiting assessment and equipment.

All councils are having to rethink and reshape the way they deliver adult social care because of the predicted increase in demand as people begin to live longer.

Demand for household aids is forecast to go up by 30 per cent by 2020. The aim is to support people in their own homes whenever possible.

Councillor Eddie Martin, the authority’s member responsible for adult social care, said: “The reality is that the system we want to change is very bureaucratic because of the processes that the council currently has to follow. The changes we propose will considerably speed up the support that we can give and focus our spending where it is most needed.

“It will make acquiring and using equipment a normal part of life rather than something that people need to be dependent on the council for.

“It will also improve our ability to support older people and people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes and provide them with more choice and control.

The consultation runs until February 15, after which a report will be presented to the council’s ruling cabinet.

A series of six public meetings are taking place across the county and information is available on the council’s website.