Northumberland has one of the highest percentages of older people in the country so adult care costs are high.
Veronica Jones, Cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing and Health, has said that the news that the Government is to give an £12 million pounds is very welcome. The amount is over three years but over half is being given this year.
This money has meant that we have been able to increase the amount that we pay to care homes for residential care, something that the homes have been asking for. But we have taken the opportunity not just to lift the rates we pay but to restructure how we make these payments, driving up standards by linking the payments to the quality ratings homes received from the government’s Quality Care inspectors and have set a “Gold”, “Silver” and “Bronze” rate based on these.
We’ve also been able to increase payments to those homes which offer specialist care such as dementia care and are making extra payments to smaller care homes as it increases choice and, on average, smaller homes are more likely to offer a high quality of care.
We know that older people prefer to stay at home as long as they can, and this relies on good home care being available.
We currently deliver over 20,000 hours of home care per week throughout Northumberland, funded by the Council. The situation in Northumberland is better than in some other local authorities but still difficulties in arranging care packages was becoming a more serious problem, particularly in the most rural areas.
The government’s money has allowed us to be able to increase these fees too. It’s also allowed us to look again at how we assess “extra rural” areas and we have been able to extend this category so that we are making extra payments for care in areas where more support is needed. The areas which we have classified as “very rural” are those where there have recently been the most serious problems in promptly setting up care packages so that people can go home sooner so we’ve given this help so that older people don’t have to stay in hospital unnecessarily.
And finally we’ve been able to use some of this money to support those with learning disabilities and more widely for campaigns to help residents in Northumberland lead a healthier life.