Friday, January 28, 2011

In UK, service cuts may mean disabled people have to pay for their own equipment

From This is Lincolnshire in the UK:

Physically disabled people using home help services could soon be forced to pay for their own equipment as part of plans to save money.

Changes being considered by Lincolnshire County Council could see the authority pass on responsibility of maintaining home help kit to the person using it, rather than taking care of the items itself.

The changes would initially affect items such as bathing equipment, bath lifts powered by rechargeable batteries and telecare equipment, the council said.

It is not clear if the council would offer any extra funding to help pay for upkeep of the items.

About 1,700 people could be affected – those who currently fall into the moderate to low bracket of care needs and who only use equipment services, rather than hands-on help.

Maureen Patten, manager at the Lincolnshire MS Therapy Centre, said the change could be a real blow.

"I think it will go down like a lead balloon," she said. "If something like a handrail falls off the wall in the bathroom, they could need to have to find the right person to come out and fix it and pay for that repair, which adds stress."

Details of the potential changes have been revealed in a new report which also recommends reassessing care needs of 3,363 people in the moderate to low bracket.

Of the 10,902 people receiving care services from the council, it is thought 121 are getting care they should not be receiving, the report said. And 360 people are receiving services after having no formal assessment, meaning the council could be shelling out for care it doesn't need to provide, prompting the need for change.

Councillor Graham Marsh, executive councillor for adult social care, said: "For some years now we have maintained our current levels of maintenance support for those needing care, while most other authorities have reviewed and lowered their criteria levels.

"It has reached the point where we have to look at our criteria in line with other councils, especially in these difficult times when the council has to find substantial savings over the next four years."

Fitness instructor Jeremy Shames, 29, said he thought fresh assessments could cause a lot of people problems.

"I don't know that the assessments are always very accurate to people's needs as they currently stand," said Mr Shames, of Heighington.

"A lot of people could end up being classed as not needing much help when they really do."

The council is now set to consult members of the public on proposed changes at a meeting on Tuesday.