£7.5m cuts in Dorset adult social care

ADULT social care in Dorset is set to take a hit as the county council plans to cut £7.5million from the service’s budget.

The authority is preparing for a major shake-up, including axing 12 managers plus admin staff and making changes to the way care budgets are spent on the front line.

The job losses will be among 500 posts the authority is expected to cut in the next financial year as part of its bid to cut £27million overall – a move that could include the loss of day centres and library closures.

But Debbie Ward, the council’s director for adult and community services, and briefholder Councillor Andrew Cattaway say the proposed cuts in their department should help improve service delivery.

Miss Ward told the Dorset Echo: “We’ve got some savings targets to go for and we’re looking to save £7.5million in adult social care.

“Over a period of years we will start to realise significant savings but it makes more sense to make sustainable changes rather than to take a knee-jerk reaction and maybe having to restart something we’ve ended too hastily.

“The challenge to me is how do I get that money out of the back office to make immediate cuts and reductions over the next year or so to get money out of the system.

“Part of that is staff restructuring – being able to realign the operational structure to fit with health care services in a better way.

“That will involve losing posts out of the management structure but in doing that we’re taking a significant amount of money out of the overheads and costs.

“Twelve management posts are going, saving the county just short of £1million, plus some admin staff.

“This will change how we’re structured to support and deliver services but keep the balance of what’s seen in public.

“There will be no frontline care-worker losses and we should see around £50,000 of additional savings from admin cuts.”

She added: “We’re looking to join up with health care and deliver services differently, for example with our new re-ablement service.

“For example, if somebody has a traumatic event – like a fall and ends up in hospital – traditionally they would end up with ongoing home care visits for years before needing residential support or going into residential care.

“That’s a long-term plan and a lot of money goes into that individual.

“Now, if somebody goes through the same trauma, coming out of hospital they will get up to six weeks’ of intensive support and help from social and healthcare professionals.

“That will almost certainly be home-based and in the long-term they don’t need social care support.

“What you’ve done is help to give someone back their independence and confidence rather than develop a long-term need for support.

“Providing that six-week care programme will almost certainly cost less.”

Coun Cattaway added: “We’re looking for better and more effective integration with health services.

“I think this is a terrific opportunity. Older people in Dorset have repeatedly indicated their wish to live as independently as possible.

“The launch of the re-ablement service across the county means many more people will be able to maintain their independence.”