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West Berkshire faces care home bed shortage



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Disability campaigners have voiced concerns over a policy consultation being carried out regarding new residential and nursing home placements for people aged 65 and over.
West Berkshire Council is proposing to assess new cases and if the individual is considered in need of care they could be moved to a care home in another region.
The chairman of the West Berkshire Disability Alliance, Mick Hutchins, said it could lead to isolation and contribute to deteriorating health.
“We are concerned if people are put in care homes out of our area, then it will be a lot more difficult for their family and friends to visit them,” he said.
“We believe that one of the most important monitoring tools to ensure homes are of a good standard and residents are not being abused is having family and friends regularly popping in and out unannounced with eyes wide open.
“This will not be so easy if a visit includes two or more hours journey time.”
Mr Hutchins said a big worry was the change follows the introduction of a cost cap on care and support passed by the council last year.
If care costs for an individual exceed £35,000 per year the council will no longer support the elderly resident in their home and they will be moved.
The value of an individual’s property cannot be taken into account when they are assessed for care at home, but it can be if the person is placed in residential care.
It would likely result in their house having to be sold to pay for the cost of their care.
“What happens if the only 'the right priced' care placements can only be found 25-100 miles away in a few years time?
"And what happens if the care cap is extended to include everyone? There is already evidence of PCT's capping NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding for younger people in some areas,” Mr Hutchins said.
“Of course the council gives us assurances that in both instances every case will be treated sympathetically and on an individual basis and this may be true at this present time – but these policies could open up a Pandora's Box by setting a precedence and what happens when let’s say a less enlightened regime gains power?”
The council said it would work with people to identify solutions and pay due regard to choice and individual needs as part of the assessment.
The consultation ends on August 26.
Anyone who would like to comment is asked to log on to

or visit the West Berkshire Independent Living Network website on http://wbiln.com/full.php?a=150.



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