Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation
Liberal Democrats have criticised a lack of consultation on price increases for residents in sheltered housing who use the council’s warden call service.
At this week’s Decision Session Labour’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services, Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, rubber-stamped proposals to increase the charges for residents using the 24-hour support service.
12 months ago Cllr Laing refused to meet Gale Farm Court residents but tried to blame the LibDems for her plans to increase warden call charges
The report admitted that the price increases could “result in financial hardship for vulnerable elderly tenants”.
Despite these concerns, no consultation was undertaken with sheltered housing tenants on the proposed changes and there are fears that the first residents will know about the plans is when they receive a letter from City of York Council.
Cllr Lynn Jeffries the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Equalities, attended the meeting and criticised the lack of engagement with tenants. She commented:
“This change will affect some of the most vulnerable residents in York and it is unacceptable that neither they nor their families were asked for their views on the price increases.
The “new” social care website – Connect to Support – has had over 700 visitors.
click to access
The site enables older people, those with disabilities, or those who simply need some support to remain independent, to shop for support services and products, find local activities and groups and look up information and advice – since it “officially” launched in November.
The site had caused some concern when it went live last Spring without any explanation
The site brings together several resources that will give adults in the city a new and innovative way of finding out what options are available to meet their needs.
For more information on how Connect to Support visit www.connecttosupport.org/york
NHS England list York as one of the worst communities for speedy hospital discharges
NHS England have today published data click here showing that in October 2013, the City was one of the worst communities in England for delayed transfer of care.
Of the 28 patients awaiting a move from York hospitals at the end of October, 11 were awaiting care or nursing home placements while 7 were waiting for a care in the community support package.
Both are the responsibility of the York Council to provide
Although the Council Leadership is now promising to fix the problem “within 6 months”, they have failed to explain why the developing crisis has not been mentioned in any of the reports published by members of the Labour Cabinet over the last 6 months.
The Leaders own report, being considered by the Council tomorrow (Thursday), makes no mention of the problems.
Separately, a resident has submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking an explanation for the apparent attempt to cover up the delayed discharges scandal. The wording of the request can be read by clicking here.
The number of delayed discharges from hospital is increasing as the York Council struggles to provide care in the community places.
The delays mean that the Council has to pay substantial “fines” and in turn the “blockage” can prevent new patients being admitted to NHS beds.
The delays have reached record levels as the weekly average figures (for patients awaiting discharge to community placements) for the last few years reveal.
- 2009/10 – 7.98
- 2010/11 – 10.13
- 2011/12 – 8.69
- 2012/13 – 10.67
- 2013/14 – 11.00 (to September)
The figures were reported to both the York Council’s “Cabinet” on 5th November and its Health Scrutiny Committee on 27th November
Neither minuted any action which they planned take to address the growing crisis.
Some of the delays are being put down to inadequate capacity in the “reablement” unit. This team seeks to train former patients to be more self-reliant.
It is the winter period when demand for NHS beds is at its highest.
The last thing that the City needs is for those that are available to be blocked by people who could, with support, be accommodated in their own homes.
After nearly two years of indecision, the York Council is being recommended next week to put Oliver House (the former elderly person’s home at the end of Priory Street) on the open market.
The building has been empty since the home was closed in April 2012.
The prime site is expected to bring in substantial offers from residential developers. The Council has budgeted to receive £450,000 from the sale of the site.
In reality the sale is likely to produce a much higher figure.
Any new homes provided there would reduce the pressure to build on greenfield land and would provide the Council with a useful capital receipt. It would help to offset the huge increase in debts accumulated by the present Labour administration.
The Council had been dithering over proposals to lease Oliver House to voluntary groups which are currently located in Holgate Villas. The Council spent £15,000 on a feasibility study for the conversion of the building. It revealed that the costs of converting the building could be as much as £1 million.
Additionally it has been costing the Council £30,000 a year to keep the building empty.
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Local residents – led by Liberal Democrats – had expressed increasing concerns about the buildings future
Many pointed out that the voluntary groups involved did not need a prime site location and that it would make more sense for the Council to ensure that they had alternative rented accommodation available.
There is still a lot of unoccupied office space in the City.
It was hoped that suitable buildings might be identified in sub-urban locations which were in need of regeneration. Acomb, for example, has never recovered from the Councils decision to close its office in the Front Street area.
However, it now seems that the Council is restricting its office search to the city centre. Two possible locations are being evaluated
The office building is likely to include other uses and will be dubbed a “Health and Social Care Hub”. The Council is looking to replace it in 2 or 3 years time with a purpose designed facility. The NHS will make a financial contribution to this new “one stop shop” style centre.
The costs of the commercial office lease are expected to be covered by the rents paid by the tenants.
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Nearly 3000 residents have been issued with “blue badges” in York.
The badges entitle the owner to park “on street” closer to amenities than otherwise would be the case.
The vast majority of the badges have been issued to those with walking disabilities or who receive DLA.
In addition there is a green badge scheme in operation for the severely disabled. This allows access to parking within the City centre.
The York Council controversially refused to exempt green badge holder’s from the Lendal Bridge access restrictions a couple of months ago.
Applications details can be found by clicking here
click to access
The York Council is saying that it is not paying for the web site which provides Eaccess to some services for disabled residents.
However it may have to contribute £15,000 a year to maintain the site which lists a mixture of public and private sector service suppliers.
The “shop4support” web site became available earlier in the year but has received little publicity. It bears the City of York Council logo.
Lib Dem Councillor Lynn Jeffries asked at the last Council meeting “how the Cabinet member was ensuring that the information contained on the website is accurate, accessible, comprehensive and up to date?”
No detailed response was provided other than to say that the “family Information service” is responsible for the content.
It remains unclear how decisions are made on which organisations to advertise on the site.
The web site is apparently to be formally launched later in the year
Residents accessing a new York web site have questioned the York Councils role in the initiative.
Although available since May, the shop4support site has had little publicity and there is no explanation on the site of the Councils role or the standing of the site.
click to access site
It appears to advertise services for disadvantaged people in the City but representatives of some voluntary organisations say they have only just found out about its existence.
It appears that the site is aimed at personal budget holders – residents who have opted to manage their own social care needs from a budget allocated by the local authority. This is a growing number of people in York where the number of direct payment holders has increased from 99 in 2008 to around 300 today. In addition many elderly people also chose now to arrange their own care.
The web page is clearly marked as being a City of York Council supported initiative, but there is no record of the Council having formally discussed its involvement. No Council contact telephone number is advertised on the site. There is no link to the site from the Council’s own web page.
Many of the services offered involve a payment. Although some of the advertisers are voluntary groups, there are others which appear to have a more commercial background.
Elsewhere on the web site, Councils are being offered the chance to get join the network in return for a payment of “from £45,000”.
Questions about the Councils involvement with the web site are likely to be asked at the next Council meeting which is taking place on 10th October.
Social care costs in York click to enlarge
The Care quality Commission has published a worrying report on conditions at a local care home.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded by clicking here
The inspector’s summary reads
We had previously received concerns about the home with regard to staffing levels and the administration of medication. We followed those concerns up as part of our inspection. The home had a high level of staff vacancies this meant that approximately 60% of the current staff were provided by an agency or the providers own staff were completing overtime. We found that this had a major impact on the consistency and quality of care and support people received.
People told us that care was improving and some of the staff were excellent. Others expressed concern and did not feel confident that the care they were receiving was good enough. We saw staff responding to people in a kind and patient manner but we also saw some circumstances which demonstrated a lack of respect for people’s privacy and dignity. Some people had consented to their care and treatment.
However, on Ebor unit, we saw few attempts to offer people choice about the care and support they experienced. Some people were not given a choice of meal and were not supported with dignity. Recording and administering of medication were unsafe which meant people were at risk of not receiving their medication as prescribed.
Information contained in people’s care records was inconsistent; which increased the risk for people not receiving care according to their needs and wishes. Poor auditing and record keeping meant that people’s health and safety was being placed at unnecessary risk of harm.
It has become clear why the Council’s leadership were so reluctant to answer questions about the future of the former elderly person’s home at Oliver House in Bishophill at the last council meeting.
A Freedom of Information response has revealed that the building is costing taxpayers nearly £2000 a month to keep empty.
The building has been unused since April 2012.
The only “occupants” are a firm called “ad hoc property management” who – in return for access – offer a “free” security service.
No rent or other income has been received for the property.
Discussions with the York CVS, which might have led to the building being sold to them, started in May 2012. They stalled several months ago.
The value of the prime site has been put at over £1 million with offers having apparently already been made, to the Council, by housing developers.
The Council has spent £30,000 over the last 18 months paying rates and on maintaining the empty property.
There are currently over 4500 people on the waiting list for social accommodation in the City. Many of these require single person accommodation
NB. The Guildhall has also now been empty for 8 months and is costing Council taxpayers around £160,000 a year in maintenance, rates and other costs.