Keith Hinkley, director of adult social care, talks to Corin Williams about the council’s Support to Access Care Service
“The Support to Access Care Service was set up in 2007. The pilot work was to provide support, advice and guidance to self-funders across assessment and care management services.
“We identified funding from within the organisation and ringfenced the service. The service has been broadened now: in common with every local authority in the country with Putting People First, we’re changing how we assess and deliver support to people. It’s still a ringfenced service, but what we’ll be looking to do is mainstream it across the organisation over the next year.
“In essence, we’ll be delivering the same service to self-funders as we are to people that are publicly funded. That will be part of the transformation process. People are coming to us because they are aware they need support but aren’t aware what services are available. Sometimes they come to us with an expectation that they would need to fund their own care and in exploring that with us we’ve found they’re actually eligible for public funding as well. That’s been a key issue.
“Every self funder is offered a care assessment. In the first year we saw 374 people in the county. That take-up has increased to over 550. In East Sussex there are a relatively high number of self-funders. There are a lot of home-owners – it’s not a particularly wealthy area but it’s probably more to do with the demographics and age profile.
“People often think that the range of services they could get would be relatively limited – they are not aware of the community options. I’m not just thinking in terms of home care, rehabilitation services, day care and respite provision, as opposed to residential care and nursing. But also community health provision, support through housing adaptations and telecare – so in some ways a lot of the support is about broadening people’s horizons about what is available.
“It’s about sustaining independence – which is fundamentally why we’re here – so that people aren’t inappropriately placing themselves in residential and nursing care when there are viable community alternatives.
“One of the clear points about Putting People First and the transformation agenda is that we need to get better at developing choice in the market. Because we’re not having as much contact with self-funders we’re not necessarily getting the information from them about what sorts of services they need, which is important as we need that to inform the market.
“There’s still an awful lot more we need to do in terms of raising public awareness. We’ve got the highest proportion of over-85s in the country. Quite often it’s that group of people that need higher levels of support. We’re expecting growth – not just in demographics but as we get better at marketing the service the numbers will go up.
“This is still a big challenge for us because it’s an area of work which we haven’t particularly focused in the past, but there have been some significant shifts in the last two to three years.”