Local authorities told to spend more on home care

The public sector in Scotland is failing to spend enough on home
care services to achieve the level of support people need to remain
in their own homes, according to the latest report by Audit

The report, Homing In On Care, outlines the increasing
importance of a wide range of home care services, designed to meet
all needs and delivered when the needs require to be met. Audit
Scotland goes on to point out that spending on home care is only
increased from £110 million to £122 million over the last
three years, and fails to respond to an increase in service users
presenting a wider range of needs.

Barbara Hurst, director of performance audit for Audit Scotland,
said: “The Scottish executive is providing councils with extra
resources for better targeted and flexible home care services. But
councils must get best value in these services through fully
involving older people and their carers.”

Hurst said councils must deliver services that provide the right
type of support: “Local authorities also need to make better use of
information technology in what is a complicated service to manage;
work in partnership with other agencies and provide specialist
training for staff.”

Among the other main conclusions of the report, Audit Scotland
points out that spending on home care has decreased in a third of
councils between 1997 and 2000, the number of home care hours fell
by 2 per cent between 1998 and 2000, and the number receiving a
service has decreased by almost 13 per cent between 1998 and 2000.
In addition, almost three-quarters of home care is still provided
between 7am and 2pm rather than the 24-hour a day provision that is
necessary to meet a range of personal needs.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities dismissed the
report as “gloomy and biased”. Cosla emphasised increases to
particular service users quoting Scottish executive figures.
According to Cosla, the number of hours of home care services
increased from five hours in 1998 to six hours in 2001, intensive
home care was provided to 11 per cent more older people in the last
year and the proportion of home care users receiving more than 10
hours per week increased from 15 per cent to 18 per cent in the
last year.

Ronnie McColl, Cosla’s social services and health
improvement spokesperson, said: “It is another example of Audit
Scotland raising a number of longstanding issues that add nothing
to the debate.”

McColl agreed that home care was a complex service to manage,
but said that councils were already engaged in the activities and
partnerships recommended by Audit Scotland. He concluded: “What
councils provide in this area is valued by a very high proportion
of service users. Nearly 66,000 people benefit from home care
services with no significant waiting lists for these services.”








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