Lee Flowers is disabled and relies on care at home through direct payments. He has been with his service provider for 10 years but his right to choice may soon dissapear with changes to the way Nottinghamshire County Council delivers its home care services.
He is not alone. Around 3,000 Nottinghamshire service users, including elderly, vulnerable and disabled people, will be severely affected by the council’s decision to reduce the number of home care providers it uses from around 30 to six from April.
Mr Flowers started the petition after the council announced Mansfield and Ashfield will be jointly classed as one area with only be one service provider.
The 34-year-old said: “The council state they have consulted service users but I can find no evidence that the people who will be most affected by this have been informed or consulted.
“I certainly wasn’t. Were you? I feel that a lot of people will not realize the implications until it is too late.
“I myself am capable of making my own decisions. I will be moving to direct payments which will enable me to stay with my current care provider.
“However I am concerned for those people who are frail and ill, have no relatives or suffer from a dementia type illness and will not be in a position to make a choice.
“I therefore ask you to sign the petition in support of the elderly, vulnerable and disabled people of Nottinghamshire.”
The e-petition can be found at www.ipetitions.com/petition/changes-to-home-care-will-it-effect-you and is slowly gathering pace with around 40 signatures.
But Lee says more are needed if it is to bring change.
Nottinghamshire home care providers have also warned people to not be apathetic about the proposals.
A North Notts home care provider said: “It is important for people not to be apathetic and to realise that these changes really are going to affect their lives.
“Everyone is concerned but they need to put those concerns in writing. I don’t think people realise just how much the changes will affect them.”
Smaller care companies have been unable to bid for the new contracts asthe council has only accepted bids from companies with a minimum turnover of between £4-£8 million per year.
Nottinghamshire County Council has said the changes do not pose a threat to the quality of care and will include quicker response times and planned night time care.
Coun Muriel Weisz, chair of the adult social care and health committee, said: “By contracting with fewer providers per geographical area, they would be able to offer better cover of care for local people and recruit local staff, including care workers who do not drive or do not have access to a car.
“Currently, we have a situation where there are 30 different providers and there are some gaps in certain areas of the county where it is difficult to deliver the home care support that people need.
“Demand for home care services continues to increase every year and we need providers who can deliver a high volume of services. These proposals will tackle this and we are working in partnership with the health service to ensure there are enough services where people need them.”
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The petition lists the following ways the new contracts may affect Nottinghamshire service users:
- Should a service user be unhappy with the new company there will be no other company to go to.
- Choice has been removed from those unable to manage or apply for a direct payment. They will have no option but to transfer to the new provider.
- Nottinghamshire County Council state that service users will most likely be able to transfer their care worker with them to the new company. There are reports that care workers will prefer to stay with the private service users in their current company so this is not necessarily the case.
- Nottinghamshire County Council have alienated current providers by putting them out of the picture so there are doubts as to who will pick up the work if the new company were to fail.
- Nottinghamshire County Council can cut costs by passing the responsibility for the care of frail, elderly and disabled people in their care by transferring them to a few large national companies.
- The new companies will have too much power. Continuity, communication and quality of care are likely to be compromised.
- Those service users who are aware of what is happening and feel confident to undertake their own finances are voting with their feet and the council are inundated with people trying to get onto direct payments before the new companies are set up
- People with Dementia rely on a consistent service, any significant changes to staff are bound to cause great distress.
- We have an aging population. Many members of the public who are not affected now may well be in the future.