My View, Ros Jones: Changing how we care for pensioners

Carers feature. Holding hand.
Carers feature. Holding hand.

This week my cabinet and I considered an important report about the future of adult social care services in Doncaster.

The growing and ageing population, plus deep and damaging Government cuts, means health and social care services are facing pressure.

In Doncaster alone, there will be 10,000 more people aged over 65 within 10 years. Costs are going up and council funding is being cut by the Government.

Despite the Chancellor’s increase on council tax – his social care ‘levy’ – the Local Government Association says there will be a nationwide shortfall of more than £2.9 billion in care services by 2020. It is one of the reasons why we need to transform care services in Doncaster.

The need to modernise adult social care in Doncaster is not a new issue, but not enough effective action to adapt services was taken during previous administrations. The changes we are now making will not only ensure our services are fit for the future, but also improve support for local people.

It means giving people more choice about care, including better advice and guidance making better use of new technology. It means better support to help people live in their own home for longer, which we know is what people want. Services in Doncaster are still quite traditional. They rely too heavily on residential care and not enough has been done to offer different types of support.

We are already making changes. We’re planning to make adaptations to 1,200 properties every year, which include accessible showers and baths, hoists and grab rails. We are building Extra Care apartments, like the new Swallowdale complex in Edlington, which has 24- hour care services available on-site if they are needed. We also need to look at how we can make best use of assistive technologies, from pressure pads to personal alarms, which can help to keep people safe. There is also a considerable resource out there in local communities that could better meet people’s needs. We want to support community groups and make it easier for our residents to connect with them.

If we do not modernise our approach to adult social care, it could result in older and vulnerable people in Doncaster not being effectively supported in the future, a situation I am not prepared to accept.

People expect the Mayor and cabinet to take positive actions that look after the best interests of people. Not just for a four-year term, but in the short and long term. We have been taking this approach across the board, in relation to jobs, the economy, housing, skills, education and children’s services, to name just a few areas. Through this transformation programme we are taking the same approach in adult social care.