DH urges councils to save cash through reduced care home use

Cutting spending on residential care has been cited by the Department of Health as key to councils making best use of resources in adult social care, in a guide published yesterday.

The guide has been highlighted by care services minister Phil Hope as providing councils with ideas for generating the £250m in efficiency savings required to implement the government’s pledge to introduce free personal care at home for people with critical care needs next year.

The report said the current DH view was that the most likely way to save money for future investment in services was to reduce the amount spent on residential care by enabling more people to be cared for in their own homes.

Large differences in residential care admissions

It identified a three-fold difference for older people and a seven-fold difference for adults with learning disabilities in the number of admissions to residential care between councils, after taking population differences into account.

The guide offers case studies of councils that have reduced use of residential care, for instance through intermediate care to help people discharged from hospital and, in the Isle of Wight, the introduction of free domiciliary care for people aged over 80.

It also encourages greater use of telecare and preventive services, and improved links with primary care trusts to enable people to stay in their homes for longer.

‘Growing evidence base’

Launching the publication at the National Children and Adult Services Conference yesterday, Hope said: “There’s a growing evidence base about the importance of prevention and early intervention, which we know saves money and resources further downstream and the use of new technology and how that will save money.”

And he added: “The partnership between health and social care is critical to its success. It’s about creating the right environment for organisations to work together and see how we can do this.”

Report author John Bolton, director of strategic finance, social care, local government and care partnerships at the DH, said: “The challenge for all of us is how we can all begin to learn from each other.”

Hope added he accepted that it would be a tough challenge to modernise services because that inevitably meant making decisions about closing others down.

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