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County could face legal action over disabled care cuts
COUNCIL chiefs could be hit by a legal challenge over proposals to move disabled people into residential homes or ‘cluster-style’ flats under a plan to save £200,000.
A campaign group has lambasted the idea as “flawed and wrong” and refused to rule out court action if the county council goes ahead.
As your Worcester News first reported in April, the authority wants to offer people with physical or learning disabilities “cheaper” options than at-home care.
From September it wants to water down community care packages so 24-hour attention in service user’s own homes becomes a last resort.
But the WeareSpartacus campaign group has published a highly critical document called ‘Past Caring’ which slams the idea.
The report says “moving people into residential care for purely economic reasons would be a retrograde step”.
Dr Sarah Campbell, from WeareSpartacus, said: “We know that times are hard – disabled people are being hit by cuts to benefits and social care services.
"But the county council’s approach is flawed and wrong. “
Flawed, because this policy will have a series of knock-on effects for health and social care providers which may end up costing even more, and wrong because disabled people should be encouraged and supported to live safely and independently.”
The group also says the proposal could breach the European Convention of Human Rights.
It says the council is leaving itself “wide open” for a court battle from service users, and calls on the authority to abandon it.
About 2,000 people use County Hall’s community care packages per year, which includes a mix of transport to day care centres, flexible visits at home and if needed, around-the-clock support with tasks such as washing, cleaning and shopping.
But at-home care costs up to £3,000 a week and under the policy it would generally be avoided unless families can contribute towards the bill.
If approved, it would only apply to new service users and existing ones whose needs escalate.
Catherine Driscoll, county council head of adult social care, said: “This proposed policy is not about us forcing people into residential or care homes but rather helping them to live as independently as possible, in as cost effective a way as possible.
“While we acknowledge this is a controversial proposal any suggestion that, if implemented, it would reduce standards of care or result in people not having their assessed care needs met is fundamentally wrong.”
The move is currently out for public consultation.