‘Damning’ social care report prompts Poole council review

A “damning” report on changes to social care in Poole which left residents feeling “betrayed” has led to a review by the council.

In a bid to save £¾ million Borough of Poole raised its level of eligibility for social care from moderate to substantial needs, affecting some of the town’s most vulnerable citizens.

The critical 50-page report on the effects for 200 people by the Local Involvement Network (LINk) includes eight recommendations and social services are now contacting the 75 who no longer receive care services.

Cllr Mike Brooke, whose Liberal Democrat group voted against the changes, said: “All the councillors need to look at this report and some of them need to hang their heads in shame for having put money ahead of care for our most vulnerable people.”

The changes affected those receiving domiciliary (home) care, direct payments and those attending Fourways and Poole day centres – some of whom found charges raised overnight from £3 to £39 for a half-day session.

LINk’s survey published as “Just Another Day Spent on My Own” was commissioned by Borough of Poole at a cost of £7,900. It took place after six months and found people disappointed and upset, while many felt rejected and saw it as a “betrayal”.

“It was clear from interviews that people were often shocked and deflated on receiving the bad news. The immediate reaction was often one of withdrawal, with a risk of this leading to loss of motivation,” said the report.

It was critical of the council’s notification letters, the lack of help to find alternatives, and said the report suggested many affected were likely to come back to the council with increased needs.

Almost two-thirds of survey respondents are now doing nothing on the days that they used to attend a day centre,” said Louise Bate of Poole LINk. “There is a real risk of increasing isolation if people aren’t supported to find alternatives.”

Peter Adams, cabinet portfolio holder for social services, said: “This is something we are very concerned about. As a council none of us wanted to remove this moderate criteria. It was fairly clear when we started our budget we had very little choice.”

He said they would be providing further help and advice and would work with the community sector to see how they could better meet needs.

Cllr Brooke described the “damning report” as “disconcerting and disturbing”. He said: “We are dealing with a group of people who really need to feel that other people respect them and are willing to care for them. To be treated this way I think is really shameful.”

David Vitty, head of adult social care, commissioning said: “LINks was very anxious we do return to people and make sure they are safe and have found alternative provision and that’s exactly what we are doing now.”

The report will go before the health and social care overview and scrutiny committee.

Comments from those affected

• “All my life I worked and paid for other people to have care services. Now I need some help and the costs are way beyond me.”
• “It has made me feel depressed and more isolated by not going to see people and having to stay in.”
• “I miss seeing my sister and the other friends that I made and the company of others.”
• “I feel as if I’ve been abandoned.”
• “I think the way social services did this change was wrong because they didn’t help me find an alternative which affected my health and made me feel isolated and depressed.”
• “I looked forward to an afternoon of respite when mum was at the day centre. This change has had an impact on the whole family.”
• “I have worked and paid my way all my life. Brain damaged I might be but I can see how utterly unfair the system is now. I do feel let down by a system I helped pay for.”