Kent

Medway Council proposes £2.1m adult social care cuts

Balfour Day Care Centre
Image caption Medway Council proposes to close Balfour Day Care Centre in Rochester

Medway Council has laid out its proposals for cutting £2.1m from its adult social care budget.

It anticipates saving £1.1m in care home charges by privatising three residential care homes and closing an adult day care centre.

The council also proposes to extend means testing to everyone who uses its adult social care services to bring in £1m additional income.

The council said fewer people were using traditional care provision.

Weekly cost

It will decide on 29 November whether to start consultation on closing Balfour Day Care Centre in Rochester.

It said the number of people who used day care centres in Medway had dropped by more than a third in the past year, from 1,618 to 1,071.

The three homes the council would like to privatise are; Nelson Court Care Home in Chatham, which it would like to sell, and Robert Bean Lodge in Rochester and Platters Farm Lodge in Rainham, which it would like independent companies to run.

Residents, their families and staff will be consulted about these proposals.

Tania Earnshaw, from the union Unison, said: "Staff working in these critical services, most of whom are UNISON members, are devastated by this news and will do all they can to keep these services public."

The council estimates the £500 average weekly cost of a bed in a privately-run care home is half that in a council-run care home.

The council wants to extend means testing to all adult social services including, for the first time, adults with mental health needs as well as transport and day care centre users.

'One of dismay'

This means people with savings of £23,500 or more would pay for their care and the council would provide personal budgets to those with less than this amount.

Karalyn Gluemart, from the charity WRVS which runs a support centre in Chatham, said: "My first reaction was one of dismay because yet another vulnerable sector of society are going to be without services.

Ms Gluemart said she could understand Medway Council's decision to means test people who have at least £23,500 of savings but said it should "look at the impact on the rest of the family".

"That person may not be able to use public transport, they may need a carer to go out with them."

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