Council in home care shake-up

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A home care service which looks after vulnerable people with mental health problems is being privatised by Sheffield Council - sparking fears that standards will slip.

The council currently runs an in-house Complex Needs Home Care service, visiting almost 190 adults across the city with dementia or other long-term conditions.

But the authority now says the service - which costs £4.6m a year - is proving too expensive, and will be ‘picked up by a range of independent providers’ from next April.

Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living, said patients will ‘continue to receive the same standard of care’.

But pensioner Gordon Chapman, aged 87, from Gleadless, said he is worried about the effect the change will have on his wife Muriel, 83, who suffers from dementia.

“They come for 45 minutes in the morning, at lunchtime and at teatime - they see to all her needs,” he said.

“Muriel is used to these carers and she knows them. If she gets strangers, then they’ll be qualified but she would find it very difficult.”

Coun Lea said the move was part of a wider review of social care services.

“At a time when there are enormous pressures on our budget we need to make sure what we are spending is being spent wisely,” she said.

“A review has shown that the current in-house system is too expensive and services can be delivered equally well and at lower cost by external providers instead.

“But I want to reassure people that they will continue to receive the same standard of care as before.

“We are reviewing everything to make sure the funding available is used fairly and consistently for people who are most in need of care and support, and this move is part of those changes.”