Merging care work to help the elderly

MORE than 70 council workers could switch to the NHS to strengthen services to curb hospital admissions.

Merging social care and healthcare professionals is also intended to make them more effective and efficient.

Two thirds of people needing home care and a third of those in care homes receive help from Calderdale Council’s hospital social workers and the numbers are rising.

Councillors have been asked to help set up a new “intermediate tier” service managed by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust which should reduce hospital admissions, prevent admissions to care homes and reduce dependency on expensive care packages.

“With an ageing population, a greater prevalence of long term conditions and a squeeze on NHS and social care budgets, the search for better quality and lower cost preventive care is more urgent than ever,” according to the council’s social care chief Phil Shire.

The number of people living in Calderdale is expected to rise by 16.7 per cent in the next 20 years and the number over the age of 75 will go up by nearly 70 per cent to 25,900 by 2029.

These are the main users of health and social care services with 47 per cent of emergency hospital admission being for patients over 60.

The council’s home care and reablement workers, which together cost more than £2 million a year, have been earmarked for an NHS takeover.

If the cabinet gives the goahead on Monday, talks with staff will begin next month and a trial of the new system will start in January so that a fully integrated service can begin in October 2012.

The council’s social care spokesman Coun Bob Metcalfe said users had made it clear that getting the services they need was complicated and there was some duplication.

“A fully-integrated service will be more effective, help people make a faster recovery from illness, shorten the time that they have to stay in hospital and help them to lead independent lives in their own homes.”