Ageing sheffield residents create health service pressure

A Generic Photo of a lonely old woman looking worrired. See PA Feature TOPICAL Lumley. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TOPICAL Lumley. .
A Generic Photo of a lonely old woman looking worrired. See PA Feature TOPICAL Lumley. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TOPICAL Lumley. .
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GROWING numbers of elderly people are set to cause pressure on Sheffield’s adult care services - with the population of over-65s set to rise by nine per cent in the next decade.

Officials are expecting a corresponding increase in elderly people needing help through adult care services, either with living independently or in residential homes.

But the extra demand comes as council cuts are having an impact on care staff.

In a report compiled by Richard Webb, Sheffield Council’s executive director responsible for the service, the council reveals 120 more people are needing care in the current year, costing an extra £3.5 million.

Mr Webb said: “The services have been reporting increasing demand and numbers of people requiring assessments and self-directed support.

“As a consequence, more people are also requiring personal budgets for their care and this is increasing the pressure on purchasing budgets within adult social care.”

Mr Webb said that, since last April, there has been a ‘net reduction’ of 19 staff in the department which carries out care assessments, with a further 13 posts to be post in the current financial year.

In 2013/14, Sheffield Council is cutting another £50 million from its overall budget - which could potentially lead to even more job losses.

Mr Webb said: “Inevitably this has an impact on the timescales of the response by assessment and care management, although actions were taken to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”

Mr Webb’s report, which is being presented to a meeting of Sheffield Council’s Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Board next Wednesday, reveals how services are performing.

The average number of days to complete assessments was 103 days in the three months to the end of June, which was up from 64 days the previous year.

Mr Webb said people waiting longer than before have ‘support in place’ or arrangements with their families.

Meanwhile, the average time taken for people to start receiving services after assessment has also lengthened considerably.

At the end of June, the average time was 89 days, compared to 53 days at the end of June 2011.

Mr Webb concluded: “The challenges facing the assessment and care management services will continue and a balance will need to be struck between the level of performance and resources available to the council.”

Mr Webb said the care services are ‘implementing improvement plans’ using a one-off investment fund, which is expected to result in a significant reduction in waiting times for assessments for personal care.