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Interview: How Redbridge Council plan to tackle the social care crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:00 23 October 2017

Children learning how to sow seeds and pick vegetable at the Valentines Park gardens. Chloe Ventura 5, Mia Harding 8 and Eva Liddington 5 with some picked onions. Picture Ken Mears.

Children learning how to sow seeds and pick vegetable at the Valentines Park gardens. Chloe Ventura 5, Mia Harding 8 and Eva Liddington 5 with some picked onions. Picture Ken Mears.

Archant

Health services in the borough are about to become a lot more patient-focused.

Suzanne Wright, development and engagement manager with Cllr Mark Santos. Suzanne Wright, development and engagement manager with Cllr Mark Santos.

Despite the challenging financial circumstances facing the social care sector, Redbridge Council is putting forward new initiatives to make sure the services it can deliver are more accessible.

The project will focus on three key areas – picking up a resident’s care needs earlier, preventative measures and using the borough assets to its advantage.

From GP prescriptions for exercise to sexual health tests being posted through residents’ doors, the council is getting creative in how it can help the community.

“Keeping people healthy and well is a major factor of adult social care,” Cllr Mark Santos, cabinet member for health and social care, told the Recorder.

Runners in the Valentines park 5k run. Picture Steve Poston Runners in the Valentines park 5k run. Picture Steve Poston

“Part of it is getting people out of hospital beds but that is not all of it.

“We are focusing on prevention, proaction and a strength-based approach.”

In an innovative step forward the council will be looking at opportunities and times to support people when they are most at risk.

Redbridge has high numbers of older and younger people, and schemes will be introduced to support them.

Runners in the Valentines park 5k run Runners in the Valentines park 5k run

One of the ideas the council is considering is checking if older people need help when they register a family death.

By flagging up needs at an early stage, the council is hoping that any issues can be intercepted and directed to the right service.

Cllr Santos said there is evidence to suggest that people who enter the care service “decline at a quicker rate” and small preventative measures could have a big positive impact on the number of people becoming fully submerged in the adult social care system.

Another idea is to promote a smoking cessation helpline to ensure that when residents are ready to quit they can get the support to do it when the feeling strikes.

“There are lots of different barriers but people often feel more able to talk over the phone” added Cllr Santos,

“There is sometimes stigma attached to some services which prevent people from accessing the ones they need but we are also posting sexual health kits to residents so they can get tested in their own homes.”

Taking a glass half full approach, the local authority will also be looking at what strengths the borough has and how best to use them.

It is engaging with 12 different cross sections of the community to work out how it can “still deliver services of value” in the context of the social care crisis.

Participants, including those with learning difficulties, older people and day centre users, will be able to “shape” the service.

Cllr Santos said he is not approaching the mammoth task ahead through “rose tinted glasses” and the cuts from central government, coupled with Redbridge’s “fastest growing aging population in London” status, means that the road ahead will be challenging.

As well as “joining up the dots” to make services more accessible and to ensure residents have a greater support network, the council will be increasing adult social care costs for some users.

“We haven’t raised charges for a staggering amount of time, but we have little choice after the difficult position the government has put us in,” he said.

“England will have a deficit of £2.2billion by 2020.

“We don’t currently charge for setting up a care package and the situation is such that we can’t continue to do that.

“We would need a contribution to an administration fee.”

Cllr Santos also said that disability related expenditure would incur a flat £15 rate instead of individual expense claims.

Three consultations will be held, the first on November 7, about the increase to some adult social care fees.

“We are passionate about social care, this isn’t just a job for us,” added Cllr Santos.

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