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Caring for tomorrow
Tuesday 9th October, 2012

People are living longer, they have greater and more costly needs but national funding is being cut.

It’s against this background that senior councillors at Wigan town hall are looking at how to meet the requirements of the most vulnerable people in the borough.

Cabinet champion for healthier communities, Cllr Keith Cunliffe, says: “People need to be reassured that despite the government’s cuts, we’re looking seriously at how we can sustain care for everyone in our community.”

Councillors heard that the current model of residential care will need to significantly change over the next two decades. The programme which they discussed at their Scrutiny Committee meeting seeks to replace current models with new housing and care options that meet the specific needs of individuals. At present, the cost of keeping people in care homes is over £400 per person per week, often much more for people with greater needs, and this is set to rise.

Cllr Cunliffe adds: “Our focus now is on phasing out unsustainable models, including costly residential care, in favour of more cost-effective, innovative solutions, which meet clients’ needs and enable them to live as independently as possible. We’ve some excellent examples of people living dignified independent lives using the latest assistive technology in extra-care housing.”

Equipment – from hoists and stairlifts to alarms and communication devices – are already in use in many people’s homes. Well chosen gadgets and sensitively installed aids help people regain skills and confidences after illness or the onset of a disability.

The council has stated its intention to be proactive in dealing with the funding challenge. Officers have proposed a long-term programme to ensure the borough has a housing and care market that meets the needs of vulnerable residents. They are already working with the private, public and registered social landlord sector to develop cost-effective, fit-for purpose housing and care solutions for older people & adults with long-term disabilities.

Officers believe the future increases in demand for care can be a significant supply opportunity to generate growth and investment. They have pledged to encourage local providers and developers to work even more closely in partnership – which may in turn also boost the local economy.

Cllr Cunliffe issued this assurance: “The way forward is that each person is an individual who will be properly and fully assessed before anything changes significantly to the services that support them to meet their needs. Our top priority is always our duty of care.”

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