Council cash is stretched by rise in care for elderly

Witney Gazette: Council cash is stretched  by rise in care for elderly Council cash is stretched by rise in care for elderly

DEMAND for council care home cash has exceeded managers’ expectations, leading to warnings over finances.

Oxfordshire County Council expected demand to match a 3.2 per cent population increase for 65s and over between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

But the number in long-term care rose 4.8 per cent from April 2013 to this February, a meeting of managers was told.

This has led to an overspend of £5.5m for home support and extra care housing in that time, though bosses say savings in other areas will see it keep within its £180m budget.

Council chief finance officer Lorna Baxter said: “The level of demand is a huge challenge. It’s expected the demand will continue into next year.”

Sara Livadeas, the council’s deputy director for joint commissioning, urged the county council’s Older People’s Joint Management Group to analyse why there had been such a large increase.

A council spokesman said emergency re-admissions to hospitals like Oxford’s John Radcliffe was adding to demand.

The budget is shared with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), which decides where most NHS cash is spent.

Interim chief executive Ian Wilson told the meeting that more OAPs were showing serious health problems.

He said: “The acuity of the people being admitted has ramped up significantly.”

The warnings come despite the budget getting an extra £5m at the start of this financial year on Tuesday.

The council will now put £89.5m into this year’s budget compared to £80m last year.

And it has abandoned plans to look for savings this year given the scale of demand.

Residents with capital and other assets under £23,250 qualify for means-tested financial support from the council.

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The figures were given to the Older People’s Joint Management Group meeting last Tuesday.

Members also heard the county is behind on a programme to ensure all people with dementia are diagnosed.

From last April to December 43 per cent of an expected 8,244 sufferers were diagnosed against a target of 60 per cent.

Fenella Trevillion, OCCG assistant director older people, said some GPs think there are not enough services to diagnose the condition, a view not shared by OCCG.

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