Consultation bid on proposed changes to eligibilty for home safety support service

Derbyshire County Council's headquarters, County Hall in Matlock. Photo by Eddie Bisknell
Derbyshire County Council's headquarters, County Hall in Matlock. Photo by Eddie Bisknell

Proposals to consult the public on changing the way older and vulnerable people are supported to live safely at home are to be considered by councillors.

Around 5,000 older and vulnerable people currently have access to community alarm and telecare services.

Derbyshire County Council has to make £12m savings this year and needs to ensure that all its services are as efficient as possible, offer value for money and support those people most in need.

The council’s cabinet will be asked on Thursday, November 8, to agree to seek residents’ views on plans to change who is eligible to receive those services.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the launch of a ten-week consultation in to the proposed changes.

These are to:

• Change the criteria to focus on those people who are assessed as being eligible to receive services under the Care Act 2014.

• Assess people who currently receive housing benefit or pension credit to establish whether they would remain eligible to receive community alarms and telecare services for free. Following the assessment there may be a requirement for them to pay towards these services.

• Continue to provide community alarm and telecare equipment free of charge but service monitoring and maintenance charges may be paid for by the client following a financial assessment.

• People will be assessed to see if they need to contribute towards on-going monitoring and maintenance costs. Some people may be able to use their personal budget to pay for the service.

• Self-funding clients who are not eligible for financial support and who have been provided with telecare equipment free of charge would be required to pay the full costs of monitoring and maintenance.

• If a self-funding client becomes eligible for financial support under the Care Act 2014 they could use their personal budget to pay for on-going monitoring and maintenance.

• Telecare and community alarm equipment and monitoring would be provided free for people – whether eligible under the Care Act or not – for a period of six weeks to enable them to return home from hospital. If they were subsequently assessed as needing the equipment it would be under the terms listed above.

County council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Jean Wharmby said: “We remain committed to supporting older people to live safely and independently at home as this is what they have told us they want.

“However, as the population ages and the demand on our services increases we have to ensure that we are using our resources as effectively as we can and that we are supporting those who need us most.

“We have to be sure we are helping those people assessed as needing our support to help them remain independent, delay their need for other adult care services or prevent them having to go in to a care home or hospital.

“This is why we are considering proposals to consult on changes to the service, which we have been running in the same way for several years.

“We also need to consider if this service is providing value for money in the way it is currently operated and explore how we can use new technology in the future.

“However I’d like to reassure residents that no changes will be made until we have heard their views.”

Community alarms provide a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week monitoring service where the older person wears a wristband or pendant which will summon help if an alert is triggered.

An operator will then speak to the resident to assess how they can support them, for instance by offering reassurance, contacting a family member or ringing for an ambulance.

Extra support is also available through Telecare to people who have greater needs.

This includes sensors to turn on lights to prevent falls at night, detectors fitted to front doors to raise the alarm if a person leaves home or gas and water sensors which can detect if taps or cookers have been left on.

The current service is operated by 12 separate providers across the county with an annual budget of just over £1m.