Bristol City Council shifts focus from residential care

Bristol City Council has said it has been too reliant on putting vulnerable adults into residential care in the past.

The authority says it is now shifting the focus to help people live in their own homes, at less cost.

A BBC survey suggests the authority is spending an estimated 7% less on adult social care in 2011/12 than in the previous year.

It is making £28m of savings – about 7% of its budget – this financial year.

The BBC’s Council Spending: Making it Clear survey was conducted in association with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

It maps the effect of local authority finances on local services following the government’s Spending Review.

‘Maintaining dignity’

Total social care spending is down by an estimated 4.8% over the same period, the research suggests.

A council spokeswoman said the authority was putting “much more emphasis” on supporting the elderly and people with learning difficulties to live in their own homes, “maintaining their independence and dignity”.

“We recognise that we have been too reliant in the past on residential care, and have not created enough opportunities for people to retain their independence,” she said.

“We are, therefore, shifting the focus of our spend to reduce the amount spent on residential care into supporting people to live safely and well in their own homes.

“To illustrate this, we currently spend 55% of our total budget for adults on residential care.

“If we spent at 40%, which is the level advised by the Department of Health, we would free up over £20m more to spend on supporting people to live at home – which is what they repeatedly tell us they want to do.”

The Liberal Democrats lost control of the council at the local elections last Thursday, losing five seats in total.

Negotiations are continuing on whether the group will lead as minority administration or make a pact with another party.