Private sector could step in as council and NHS aim to move residents with learning disabilities into supported tenancies

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People with learning disabilities in Doncaster will be moved from nursing-led model in specialist care homes to supported tenancies in a bid to modernise the service.

A proposed plan orchestrated between Doncaster Council and NHS bosses claim the shift will give residents 'more independence' while being able to claim housing benefits.

The plan includes renovating the care homes into more suitable individual accommodation spaces at buildings in Auckley, Intake, Hatfield, Edlington and Conisborough.

It's expected that most residents will stay where they are and will not have to move.

Further discussions surrounding the council-owned Travis Gardens home in Hexthorpe is currently being reviewed.

The move comes as current provider Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) told the council and Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) they were 'unable to deliver the current service and guarantee its sustainability within the agreed contractual terms'.

Council bosses added the system as it stands is 'financially unsustainable' and does not 'represent best value for money' for the local authority and the CCG.

Doncaster Council had been plugging a financial deficit of £910,730 to cover RDaSH from reserves given to the local authority by the Department for Health. Council bosses added this was 'not a sustainable option in the long term'.

The contract to deliver the care needs of the 43 residents will be put out to tender. It's unclear if RDaSH will bid for the contract and a new provider could come from the private sector.

But council social care boss Damien Allen said strict tests would be in place before picking a provider.

"This is not something that is decided on cost alone," he said.

"Quality is very significant and in this particular cohort of need, even more so. There has to be the appropriate due diligence.

"We would be looking at track record and the success of previous tenders. We do a market exercise to test what interest there is.

"With the NHS, we work very well with RDaSH but it's not for us to determine what their future business model is around services they want to supply in the future - we would be more than happy for them to were they to bid along with others.

"At the moment, we haven't had confirmation where they are at the moment."

Mr Allen added the current medical delivery model provided by nursing staff 'wasn't needed' in some cases and stifled 'independence and control in their lives'.

Out of the 32 residents' families and advocates, 24 agreed with the findings, five were against the changes and three were 'not sure'.

A further 11 residents represented by 'advocates' have been 'assigned to support them through the strategic review'.

The new provider is expected to be in place May 2019 but until then, a 'monthly pressure' of £76,000 per month will need to be met to make up the deficit.