Cornwall to miss target for service transfer – again

Writes Caroline Lovell

Cornwall health and social care leaders are set to miss a second deadline to transfer NHS learning disability services to independent providers.

Almost 170 residents of 44 group homes, run as part of Cornwall Partnership Trust’s supported living service, were due to have transferred to new providers by July 2007, but this was put back to October earlier this year, and now this deadline looks set to be missed.

Despite being run under the guise of supported living, the Commission for Social Care Inspection declared the services to be unregistered care homes.

Last year’s scathing report into services at the trust, by CSCI and the Healthcare Commission, found most residents were unable to choose where they lived or who with, and only a few were able to play some part in the day-to-day running of their home.

Following the report, the trust, Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust agreed to recommission the services.

Residents were asked to choose a new provider and care package from 18 accredited organisations. But the decision process became more “complicated and time consuming” than anticipated, said Geoff Baines, head of the external change team brought in to modernise services in Cornwall.

As of this week, only 10 of the 44 homes have selected four new care providers and Baines is deciding on new deadlines.
“People need time to make this decision. It’s challenging and difficult but it’s clearly the right thing to do,” said Baines.

Reg Broad, chair of East Cornwall Mencap, claimed that many residents, who have profound learning disabilities, were having “terrible problems” as advocates were overwhelmed with clients, and family members felt incapable to make decisions on their behalf. Baines denied these problems were occurring.

Residents have been asked to shortlist three providers, who meet their essential and desirable criteria, before directly negotiating the care package.

Rob Greig, national co-director of learning disabilities, praised Cornwall for its “radical” approach to user empowerment and argued that the Valuing People agenda would have made more progress had other areas followed the same direction.

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